Isabella Karlsson

Room: C328a
Phone: +46 72 148 9271

Research Field and Biographical Information

Skin (contact) allergy, which affects a fifth of the population in the Western world, is the most frequent manifestation of adverse health effects caused by the interaction of chemicals in the environment with our immune system. Contact allergens are small, reactive chemicals (called haptens) that are able to penetrate into epidermis (the top layer of the skin) and modify endogenous proteins. It is these hapten-protein complexes that has the ability to trigger the immune system. The symptom of contact allergy is eczema, which is obtained at the site of skin contact with the responsible chemical. There is no cure for contact allergy, only symptomatic treatment with corticosteroids. The public’s exposure to various chemicals has increased substantially in recent years; it is therefore likely that contact allergy will increase as a health risk in the future unless exposure to these hazardous compounds is limited. My newly started research group is currently working on the development of LC/MS methods for detection of hapten-protein adducts in blood as a tool to A) investigate the environmental exposure to contact allergens and evaluate the ability of these compounds to cause skin allergy in the general population, and B) identify biomarkers that can be used to develop better diagnostic tools for contact allergy. This research is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS) and Birgit and Hellmuth Hertz’ foundation (Kungliga Fysiografiska Sällskapet).


I obtained my PhD degree in Dermatochemistry in 2011 from the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology (CMB) at Gothenburg University. My doctoral studies focused on investigation of photocontact allergy caused by sunscreens and anti-inflammatory agents. To acquire experience from cell biology and biochemistry, relevant to the skin, I did my Postdoc (2012-2014) with Professor Jack Arbiser at the Deptartment of Dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta (Georgia, USA). I was employed at ACES in 2014 to initiate research focused on understanding chemical aspects of the mechanisms underlying contact allergy.

Latest scientific papers

Characterizing Adduct Formation of Electrophilic Skin Allergens with Human Serum Albumin and Hemoglobin

Lorena Ndreu.; Luke N. Erber; Margareta Törnqvist; Natalia Y. Tretyakova.; Isabella Karlsson
2020 | Chem. Res. Toxicol.

Development of new epoxy resin monomers – A delicate balance between skin allergy and polymerization properties

Ponting D.J., Ortega M.A., Niklasson I.B., Karlsson I., Seifert T., Steen J., Luthman K., and Karlberg A.T
2019 | Chem. Res. Toxicol. | 32 (1) (57-66)

Discovery of Novel N-(4-Hydroxybenzyl)valine Hemoglobin Adducts in Human Blood

Degner A., Carlsson H., Karlsson I. Eriksson J., Pujari S.S., Tretyakova N.Y., and Törnqvist M.
2018 | Chem. Res. Toxicol. | 31 (12) (1305-1314)

The Fate of a Hapten – From the Skin to Modification of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) in Lymph Nodes

Karlsson I., Samuelsson K., Simonsson C., Stenfeldt A.-L., Nilsson U., Ilag L.L., Jonsson C., and Karlberg A.-T.
2018 | Sci Rep | 8 (1)

Glycosylation patterns of selected proteins in individual serum and cerebrospinal fluid samples

Karlsson I., Ndreu L., Quaranta A., and Thorsén G.
2017 | J Pharm Biomed Anal | 145 (431-439)

All publications

Exposure & Effects

Exposure and effects of chemical contaminants on living organisms.