Digital Public Defence: Elisabeth Øya

MSc Elisabeth Øya at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Characterization and pro-inflammatory potential of indoor mold particles. An in vitro study in lung cell models” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here


Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Marjut Roponen, Inhalation Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Evironmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  • Second opponent: Professor Asbjørn Magne Nilsen, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Emeritus Johny Kongerud, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Lars Fjellbirkeland, Faculty of Medicine, Universrity of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Chief Scientist, PhD, Jørn Andreas Holme, Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Exposure to damp/mold-contaminated indoor air is associated with adverse respiratory health effects. However, the potential role of mold exposure as such (importance of species-specific effects, the role of different mold components and molecular mechanisms involved) is still unclear.

We found that the pro-inflammatory effects induced in various human lung cell models by spores of hyphal fragments from four mold species common in humid indoor environments could not easily be explained by one specific characteristic (number, size, mycotoxin-, b-glucan- and protease content). The responses were species-, growth stage- and cell type-dependent. Hyphal preparations of A. fumigatus and P. chrysogenum were more potent than respective spore preparations, whereas hyphal fragments and spores of A. versicolor and S. chartarum gave similar, low inflammatory responses. The responses varied also between cell models. An overall evaluation of the responses indicated that human peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages could be the most relevant in vitro test model. However, further testing is required. Mainly toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was involved in the mold-induced responses in macrophages, whereas TLR2 seems to have a more essential role in lung epithelial cells. Furthermore, combined exposure to mold particles and inorganic particles seemed to give synergistic pro-inflammatory effects.                           

We hypothesize that continuous exposure to hyphal fragments of prevalent mold species with strong pro-inflammatory potential could be particularly relevant candidates for respiratory diseases associated with damp/mold-contaminated indoor air. Characterization of humid indoor air should include hyphal fragments from both pathogenic and non-pathogenic species and assessment of their pro-inflammatory potential, as this may have implications for future indoor air quality assessment.

Additional information

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Published June 12, 2020 11:38 AM - Last modified July 20, 2020 1:02 PM