Neuropsychiatric disorders - Håkan Karlsson group

By an interdisciplinary approach, our laboratory seeks to improve our understanding of how different environmental factors contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Illustration of Karlsson laboratory research focus
Photo: Håkan Karlsson

Research focus

Despite tremendous progress in our understanding of genetic risk factors for some of the major psychiatric illness, the mechanisms underlying the appearance of diagnostic symptoms remain elusive. This lack of knowledge currently prohibits advances in the prevention and treatment of these disorders. By an interdisciplinary approach, our laboratory seeks to further our understanding of how environmental and genetic factors contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders. To this end we have taken an interdisciplinary approach combining epidemiology, genetics, and proteomics to supplement existing register-based data with individual level molecular information. We thus hope to provide a better understanding of how environmental factors act on individual risk genotypes from neonatal life through diagnosis in childhood or early adulthood in a large sample representative of the general population of Sweden.

Using the unique Swedish biobanks and registers we have previously reported risk for serious psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism associated with deficits in key factors of the acute phase response at birth. Register-based studies indicate that exposure to serious infections during childhood also contributes to the development of psychiatric illness later in life. Our current work focuses on understanding the mechanisms explaining variation in immune markers at birth and how such variation potentially modifies the outcomes of infections during early childhood, a critical period of brain development.

Group members

Selected publications

Maternal infection during pregnancy and likelihood of autism and intellectual disability in children in Sweden: a negative control and sibling comparison cohort study.
Brynge M, Sjöqvist H, Gardner RM, Lee BK, Dalman C, Karlsson H
Lancet Psychiatry 2022 Oct;9(10):782-791

Maternal Levels of Cytokines in Early Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Offspring.
Brynge M, Gardner RM, Sjöqvist H, Lee BK, Dalman C, Karlsson H
Front Public Health 2022 ;10():917563

Parental inflammatory bowel disease and autism in children.
Sadik A, Dardani C, Pagoni P, Havdahl A, Stergiakouli E, , Khandaker GM, Sullivan SA, Zammit S, Jones HJ, Davey Smith G, Dalman C, Karlsson H, Gardner RM, Rai D
Nat Med 2022 Jul;28(7):1406-1411

Maternal levels of acute phase proteins in early pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorders in offspring.
Brynge M, Gardner R, Sjöqvist H, Karlsson H, Dalman C
Transl Psychiatry 2022 Apr;12(1):148

Childhood infections and autism spectrum disorders and/or intellectual disability: a register-based cohort study.
Karlsson H, Sjöqvist H, Brynge M, Gardner R, Dalman C
J Neurodev Disord 2022 Feb;14(1):12

Neonatal levels of acute phase proteins and later risk of non-affective psychosis.
Gardner RM, Dalman C, Wicks S, Lee BK, Karlsson H
Transl Psychiatry 2013 Feb;3():e228


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Håkan Karlsson

Principal Researcher
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