Alex P. Carll, Ph.D., MSPH

Assistant Professor of Physiology


Education and Training

Ph.D.: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Environmental Health Sciences
MSPH: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Environmental Science and Engineering
Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences

Research Interest

Air pollution exposure is linked to adverse cardiac outcomes, including heart failure exacerbation and sudden cardiac arrest. The Carll laboratory studies the biological mechanisms by which air pollutants weaken the heart, impair cardiac conduction, and compromise hemodynamics, and whether such effects occur through the autonomic nervous system. The Carll lab applies healthy, diseased, and genetic rodent models to inhalation exposure studies to investigate the biological plausibility and elucidate the mechanisms of air pollutant-induced cardiac mortality and morbidity. Dr. Carll's team assesses rodent and human hearts for adverse changes in electrical activity, mechanical performance, and neural regulation following exposure to multiple pollutants, including PM from highways, office printers, and ambient urban airsheds, as wells as diesel exhaust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainstream cigarette smoke, and electronic cigarette aerosols. The Carll lab also conducts basic biochemical and molecular toxicologic assays while analyzing physiologic signals, including the electrocardiogram (ECG), arterial and left ventricular pressure waveforms, and echocardiogram.
Current Investigative Questions

In both rodents and humans, the Carll lab investigates:

  1. What are the neural and cellular pathways underlying pollutant-induced myocardial dysfunction and remodeling?
  2. How do e-cigarette and office printer aerosols adversely affect cardiac function, intracellular signaling, and neuroregulation?
  3. How do VOCs contribute to the cardiac risks of exposure to pollutant aerosols?

Dr. Carll's recent findings suggest that exposure to suspended particulate matter (PM) at near-ambient levels promotes concomitant arrhythmia, autonomic imbalance, blunted baroreflexes, and respiratory dysfunction

Featured Publications

Find all papers and citations via ResearchGate or the National Library of Medicine

  • Carll AP, Arab C, Salatini R, Miles MD, Nystoriak MA, Fulghum KL, Riggs DW, Shirk GA, Theis WS, Talebi N, Bhatnagar A, Conklin DJ. E-cigarettes and their lone constituents induce cardiac arrhythmia and conduction defects in mice. Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 25;13(1):6088. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-33203-1. PMID: 36284091; PMCID: PMC9596490.
  • Irfan AB, Arab C, DeFilippis AP, Lorkiewicz P, Keith RJ, Xie Z, Bhatnagar A, Carll AP. Smoking Accelerates Atrioventricular Conduction in Humans Concordant with Increased Dopamine Release. Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2021 Feb;21(2):169-178. doi: 10.1007/s12012-020-09610-5. Epub 2020 Oct 12. PMID: 33043409; PMCID: PMC7855806.
  • Carll AP, Salatini R, Pirela SV, Wang Y, Xie Z, Lorkiewicz P, Naeem N, Qian Y, Castranova V, Godleski JJ, Demokritou P. Inhalation of printer-emitted particles impairs cardiac conduction, hemodynamics, and autonomic regulation and induces arrhythmia and electrical remodeling in rats. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2020 Jan 29;17(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s12989-019-0335-z. PMID: 31996220; PMCID: PMC6990551.
  • Conklin DJ, Schick S, Blaha MJ, Carll A, DeFilippis A, Ganz P, Hall ME, Hamburg N, O'Toole T, Reynolds L, Srivastava S, Bhatnagar A. Cardiovascular injury induced by tobacco products: assessment of risk factors and biomarkers of harm. A Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science compilation. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2019 Apr 1;316(4):H801-H827. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00591.2018. Epub 2019 Feb 1. PMID: 30707616; PMCID: PMC6483019.
  • da Silva TD, Massetti T, Crocetta TB, de Mello Monteiro CB, Carll A, Vanderlei LCM, Arbaugh C, Oliveira FR, de Abreu LC, Ferreira Filho C, Godleski J, Ferreira C. Heart Rate Variability and Cardiopulmonary Dysfunction in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Systematic Review. Pediatr Cardiol. 2018 Jun;39(5):869-883. doi: 10.1007/s00246-018-1881-0. Epub 2018 Apr 25. PMID: 29696428.
  • Carll AP, Crespo SM, Filho MS, Zati DH, Coull BA, Diaz EA, Raimundo RD, Jaeger TNG, Ricci-Vitor AL, Papapostolou V, Lawrence JE, Garner DM, Perry BS, Harkema JR, Godleski JJ. Inhaled ambient-level traffic-derived particulates decrease cardiac vagal influence and baroreflexes and increase arrhythmia in a rat model of metabolic syndrome. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2017 May 25;14(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12989-017-0196-2. PMID: 28545487; PMCID: PMC5445437.
  • Carll AP, Haykal-Coates N, Winsett DW, Hazari MS, Ledbetter AD, Richards JH, Cascio WE, Costa DL, Farraj AK. Cardiomyopathy confers susceptibility to particulate matter-induced oxidative stress, vagal dominance, arrhythmia and pulmonary inflammation in heart failure-prone rats. Inhal Toxicol. 2015 Feb;27(2):100-12. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2014.995387. PMID: 25600220; PMCID: PMC4835220.
  • Perez CM, Hazari MS, Ledbetter AD, Haykal-Coates N, Carll AP, Cascio WE, Winsett DW, Costa DL, Farraj AK. Acrolein inhalation alters arterial blood gases and triggers carotid body-mediated cardiovascular responses in hypertensive rats. Inhal Toxicol. 2015 Jan;27(1):54-63. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2014.984881. PMID: 25600140; PMCID: PMC4767015.
  • Carll AP, Hazari MS, Perez CM, Krantz QT, King CJ, Haykal-Coates N, Cascio WE, Costa DL, Farraj AK. An autonomic link between inhaled diesel exhaust and impaired cardiac performance: insight from treadmill and dobutamine challenges in heart failure-prone rats. Toxicol Sci. 2013 Oct;135(2):425-36. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft155. Epub 2013 Jul 19. PMID: 23872579; PMCID: PMC3937599.
  • Perez CM, Ledbetter AD, Hazari MS, Haykal-Coates N, Carll AP, Winsett DW, Costa DL, Farraj AK. Hypoxia stress test reveals exaggerated cardiovascular effects in hypertensive rats after exposure to the air pollutant acrolein. Toxicol Sci. 2013 Apr;132(2):467-77. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft008. Epub 2013 Jan 18. PMID: 23335627; PMCID: PMC3937591.