Environmental exposures and epigenetic mechanisms

There has been a rapidly increasing interest in whether environmental factors modulate the establishment and maintenance of epigenetic modifications, and thereby affect gene expression and phenotype. Chemical pollutants, dietary components, temperature changes and other external stressors can indeed have long-lasting effects on development, metabolism and health, and maybe even in subsequent generations. Although the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown, particularly in humans, mechanistic insights are emerging from experimental model systems, which may have implications for understanding disease and development.

We aim to combine experimental and epidemiological research to study gene-environment-epigenome interactions. In particular, our research focuses on developmental origins of health and disease with an emphasis on environmental exposures and epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and noncoding RNA). The projects concern the effects of environmental exposures such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, flame retardants, pesticides, metals, particulate air pollution, as well as drugs, psycho-social stressors and ethnical disparities. Ongoing efforts include investigation of multigenerational epigenetic inheritance.

Principal investigator: Oskar Karlsson