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2016: Associate Professor in Toxicology at the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM)

2006: Dr.Med.Sci., Karolinska Institutet. Scientific field: Medicine/ Environmental medicine. Thesis title: Particularly Harmful Particles? - A study of airborne particles with a focus on genotoxicity and oxidative stress. 

2001: M.Sci. Chemistry from Karlstad University. Main subjects: Chemistry (Karlstad University), Environmental Sciences (Karlstad University), Human Biosciences/Biology (University of Newcastle, Australia) Toxicology (Karolinska Institutet)


Research description

Toxicity of particles with a focus on nanotoxicology

The introduction of nanotechnology has led to an increased likelihood of exposure to nanoparticles for workers and consumers. In addition, workers in occupations not related to nanotechnology are also frequently exposed to elevated levels of airborne metallic particles and ambient particles in cities often contain metals. My research is focused on understanding lung cell toxicity of metal-containing particles and one main aim is to find out which particles that are most toxic as well as understanding the underlying mechanisms. Specifically, there is a focus on the ability of particles to cause DNA damage and oxidative stress. A challenge with my research is to develop and use in vitro methods that better resembles the real exposure situation in the lung. This includes e.g. to expose lung cells to an aerosol of particles in the “air-liquid interface”. Oxidative stress and DNA damage arising from the particles can lead to mutations that are critical for cancer development. Furthermore, it has become clear that many toxic agents including metals can affect the DNA in other ways. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. On-going research also aims at studying epigenetic effects as a consequence of nanoparticle exposure. In all, these projects will be important for hazard identification and risk assessment of nanomaterials with the overall goal to prevent negative health effects following exposure to nanoparticles. 

Selected recent publications

Gliga AR, Skoglund, S, Odnevall Wallinder, I, Fadeel, B and Karlsson HL (2014). Size-dependent cytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in human lung cells: the role of cellular uptake, agglomeration and Ag release. Particle and Fibre Toxicology.  Feb 17;11(1):11.

Karlsson HL, Cronholm P, Hedberg Y, Tornberg M, De Battice L, Svedhem S and Odnevall Wallinder I. (2013). Cell membrane damage and protein interaction induced by copper containing nanoparticles - importance of the metal release process. Toxicology, 8;313(1):59-69

Cronholm P, Karlsson HL, Hedberg J, Lowe TA, Winnberg L, Elihn K, Wallinder IO, Möller L. (2013). Intracellular uptake and toxicity of Ag and CuO Nanoparticles: A Comparison Between Nanoparticles and their Corresponding Metal Ions. Small. Apr 8;9(7):970-82.


Stoccoro A, Karlsson HL, Coppedè F, Migliore L. (2013). Epigenetic effects of nano-sized materials. Toxicology. 313(1), 3-14.

Elihn K, Cronholm P, Karlsson HL, Midander K, Odnevall Wallinder I and Möller, L (2013). Cellular doses of partly soluble Cu particle aerosols at the air-liquid interface using an artificial lung system. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. Apr;26(2):84-93.

Shi J, Karlsson HL, Johansson K, Gogvadze V, Xiao L, Li J, Burks T, Uheida A, Garcia-Bennett A, Muhammed M, Mathur S, Morgenstern R, Kagan V, Fadeel B. (2012). Microsomal Glutathione Transferase 1 Protects against Toxicity Induced by Silica Nanoparticles but not by Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles. ASC Nano, 6(3):1925-38. 

 Karlsson HL (2010). The comet assay in nanotoxicology research. Anal Bioanal Chem. 398(2):651-66.

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Receiver of stipend from ”Konung Carl XVI Gustafs 50-årsfond för vetenskap, teknik och miljö”, 2012

Main funding

FORTE. Project title: “Nanoparticle-induced toxicity: focus on genotoxic and epigenetic effects in lung cells” (2012-2015)

Karolinska Institutet KID funding: “Nanoparticle-induced toxicity: focus on genotoxic and epigenetic effects in lung cells” (2012-2015)

IMM Junior Faculty Grant (2013-2014)

VR. Project title: “Nano-Cell interactions: DNA damage of well characterized metal and metal oxide nanoparticles investigated by using high-throughput comet assay and reporter cell lines” (2015-2018)


Calcium-dependent cyto- and genotoxicity of nickel metal and nickel oxide nanoparticles in human lung cells
Di Bucchianico S, Gliga Ar, Åkerlund E, Skoglund S, Wallinder Io, Fadeel B, et al
Particle and fibre toxicology 2018;15(1):32-

Genotoxic and mutagenic properties of Ni and NiO nanoparticles investigated by comet assay, γ-H2AX staining, Hprt mutation assay and ToxTracker reporter cell lines
Åkerlund E, Cappellini F, Di Bucchianico S, Islam S, Skoglund S, Derr R, et al
Environmental and molecular mutagenesis 2018;59(3):211-222

Mechanistic insight into reactivity and (geno)toxicity of well-characterized nanoparticles of cobalt metal and oxides
Cappellini F, Hedberg Y, Mccarrick S, Hedberg J, Derr R, Hendriks G, et al
Nanotoxicology 2018;12(6):602-620

RNA-sequencing reveals long-term effects of silver nanoparticles on human lung cells
Gliga Ar, Di Bucchianico S, Lindvall J, Fadeel B, Karlsson Hl
Scientific reports 2018;8(1):6668-

Size-dependent genotoxicity of silver, gold and platinum nanoparticles studied using the mini-gel comet assay and micronucleus scoring with flow cytometry
Lebedová J, Hedberg Ys, Odnevall Wallinder I, Karlsson Hl
Mutagenesis 2018;33(1):77-85

Cerium oxide nanoparticles inhibit differentiation of neural stem cells
Gliga Ar, Edoff K, Caputo F, Källman T, Blom H, Karlsson Hl, et al
Scientific reports 2017;7(1):9284-

Effects on human bronchial epithelial cells following low-dose chronic exposure to nanomaterials: A 6-month transformation study
Phuyal S, Kasem M, Rubio L, Karlsson Hl, Marcos R, Skaug V, et al
Toxicology in vitro : an international journal published in association with BIBRA 2017;44():230-240

Emerging metrology for high-throughput nanomaterial genotoxicology
Nelson Bc, Wright Cw, Ibuki Y, Moreno-villanueva M, Karlsson Hl, Hendriks G, et al
Mutagenesis 2017;32(1):215-232

Genotoxicity of TiO2 nanoparticles assessed by mini-gel comet assay and micronucleus scoring with flow cytometry
Di Bucchianico S, Cappellini F, Le Bihanic F, Zhang Y, Dreij K, Karlsson Hl
Mutagenesis 2017;32(1):127-137

In vitro genotoxicity of airborne Ni-NP in air-liquid interface
Latvala S, Vare D, Karlsson Hl, Elihn K
Journal of applied toxicology : JAT 2017;37(12):1420-1427

Electrochemical surface oxide characteristics of metal nanoparticles (Mn, Cu and Al) and the relation to toxicity
Hedberg Ys, Pradhan S, Cappellini F, Karlsson Me, Blomberg E, Karlsson Hl, et al

In vivo micronucleus screening in zebrafish by flow cytometry
Le Bihanic F, Di Bucchianico S, Karlsson Hl, Dreij K
Mutagenesis 2016;31(6):643-653

Nickel Release, ROS Generation and Toxicity of Ni and NiO Micro- and Nanoparticles
Latvala S, Hedberg J, Di Bucchianico S, Möller L, Odnevall Wallinder I, Elihn K, et al
PloS one 2016;11(7):e0159684-

Optimization of an air-liquid interface exposure system for assessing toxicity of airborne nanoparticles
Latvala S, Hedberg J, Möller L, Odnevall Wallinder I, Karlsson Hl, Elihn K
Journal of applied toxicology : JAT 2016;36(10):1294-301

Surface passivity largely governs the bioaccessibility of nickel-based powder particles at human exposure conditions
Hedberg Ys, Herting G, Latvala S, Elihn K, Karlsson Hl, Odnevall Wallinder I
Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP 2016;81():162-170

The importance of extracellular speciation and corrosion of copper nanoparticles on lung cell membrane integrity
Hedberg J, Karlsson Hl, Hedberg Y, Blomberg E, Odnevall Wallinder I
Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces 2016;141():291-300

Can the comet assay be used reliably to detect nanoparticle-induced genotoxicity?
Karlsson Hl, Di Bucchianico S, Collins Ar, Dusinska M
Environmental and molecular mutagenesis 2015;56(2):82-96

Next-generation sequencing reveals low-dose effects of cationic dendrimers in primary human bronchial epithelial cells
Feliu N, Kohonen P, Ji J, Zhang Y, Karlsson Hl, Palmberg L, et al
ACS nano 2015;9(1):146-63

Mechanism-based genotoxicity screening of metal oxide nanoparticles using the ToxTracker panel of reporter cell lines
Karlsson Hl, Gliga Ar, Calléja Fm, Gonçalves Cs, Wallinder Io, Vrieling H, et al
Particle and fibre toxicology 2014;11():41-

Size-dependent cytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in human lung cells: the role of cellular uptake, agglomeration and Ag release
Gliga Ar, Skoglund S, Wallinder Io, Fadeel B, Karlsson Hl
Particle and fibre toxicology 2014;11():11-

Cell membrane damage and protein interaction induced by copper containing nanoparticles--importance of the metal release process
Karlsson Hl, Cronholm P, Hedberg Y, Tornberg M, De Battice L, Svedhem S, et al
Toxicology 2013;313(1):59-69

Cellular dose of partly soluble Cu particle aerosols at the air-liquid interface using an in vitro lung cell exposure system
Elihn K, Cronholm P, Karlsson Hl, Midander K, Odnevall Wallinder I, Möller L
Journal of aerosol medicine and pulmonary drug delivery 2013;26(2):84-93

Epigenetic effects of nano-sized materials
Stoccoro A, Karlsson Hl, Coppede F, Migliore L
TOXICOLOGY 2013;313(1):3-14

Geoengineering: Perilous Particles
Fadeel B, Karlsson Hl, Bhattacharya K
SCIENCE 2013;340(6132):548-9

Intracellular uptake and toxicity of Ag and CuO nanoparticles: a comparison between nanoparticles and their corresponding metal ions
Cronholm P, Karlsson Hl, Hedberg J, Lowe Ta, Winnberg L, Elihn K, et al
Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) 2013;9(7):970-82

DNA damage induced by micro- and nanoparticles--interaction with FPG influences the detection of DNA oxidation in the comet assay
Kain J, Karlsson Hl, Möller L
Mutagenesis 2012;27(4):491-500

Hemolytic properties of synthetic nano- and porous silica particles: the effect of surface properties and the protection by the plasma corona
Shi J, Hedberg Y, Lundin M, Odnevall Wallinder I, Karlsson Hl, Möller L
Acta biomaterialia 2012;8(9):3478-90

Microsomal Glutathione Transferase 1 Protects Against Toxicity Induced by Silica Nanoparticles but Not by Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles
Shi Jw, Karlsson Hl, Johansson K, Gogvadze V, Xiao Ls, Li Jt, et al
ACS NANO 2012;6(3):1925-38

Effect of sonication and serum proteins on copper release from copper nanoparticles and the toxicity towards lung epithelial cells
Cronholm P, Midander K, Karlsson Hl, Elihn K, Wallinder Io, Moller L
NANOTOXICOLOGY 2011;5(2):269-81

Bioaccessibility, bioavailability and toxicity of commercially relevant iron- and chromium-based particles: in vitro studies with an inhalation perspective
Hedberg Y, Gustafsson J, Karlsson Hl, Moller L, Wallinder Io

The comet assay in nanotoxicology research
Karlsson Hl

Size-dependent toxicity of metal oxide particles-A comparison between nano- and micrometer size
Karlsson Hl, Gustafsson J, Cronholm P, Moller L
TOXICOLOGY LETTERS 2009;188(2):112-8

Surface Characteristics, Copper Release, and Toxicity of Nano- and Micrometer-Sized Copper and Copper(II) Oxide Particles: A Cross-Disciplinary Study
Midander K, Cronholm P, Karlsson Hl, Elihn K, Moller L, Leygraf C, et al
SMALL 2009;5(3):389-99

Copper oxide nanoparticles are highly toxic: A comparison between metal oxide nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes
Karlsson Hl, Cronholm P, Gustafsson J, Moller L

Mechanisms related to the genotoxicity of particles in the subway and from other sources
Karlsson Hl, Holgersson A, Moller L

The antipsychotic drug trifluoperazine inhibits DNA repair and sensitizes non-small cell lung carcinoma cells to DNA double-strand break-induced cell death
Polischouk Ag, Holgersson A, Zong Dl, Stenerlow B, Karlsson Hl, Moller L, et al

Comparison of genotoxic and inflammatory effects of particles generated by wood combustion, a road simulator and collected from street and subway
Karlsson Hl, Ljungman Ag, Lindbom J, Moller L
TOXICOLOGY LETTERS 2006;165(3):203-11

DNA oxidative damage and strand breaks in young healthy individuals: A gender difference and the role of life style factors
Hofer T, Karlsson Hl, Moller L
FREE RADICAL RESEARCH 2006;40(7):707-14

Establishing the background level of base oxidation in human lymphocyte DNA: results of an interlaboratory validation study
Escodd (european Standards Committee On Oxidative Dna Damage), Gedik Cm, Collins A
FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2005;19(1):82-4

Subway particles are more genotoxic than street particles and induce oxidative stress in cultured human lung cells
Karlsson Hl, Nilsson L, Moller L

Genotoxicity of airborne particulate matter: the role of cell-particle interaction and of substances with adduct-forming and oxidizing capacity
Karlsson Hl, Nygren J, Moller L

P-32-postlabeling of DNA adducts arising from complex mixtures: HPLC versus TLC separation applied to adducts from petroleum products
Eriksson Hl, Zeisig M, Ekstrom Lg, Moller L
ARCHIVES OF TOXICOLOGY 2004;78(3):174-81

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