Background: A genome-wide study identifed de novo DNA methylation alterations in leukocytes of children at paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) discharge, ofering a biological basis for their impaired long-term development. Early parenteral nutrition (early-PN) in PICU, compared with omitting PN in the frst week (late-PN), explained diferential methylation of 23% of the afected CpG-sites. We documented the time course of altered DNA methylation in PICU and the impact hereon of early nutritional management. Results: We selected 36 early-PN and 36 late-PN matched patients, and 42 matched healthy children. We quantifed DNA methylation on days 3, 5 and 7 for the 147 CpG-sites of which methylation was normal upon PICU admission in this subset and altered by critical illness at PICU discharge. Methylation in patients difered from healthy children for 64.6% of the 147 CpG-sites on day 3, for 72.8% on day 5 and for 90.5% on day 7 as revealed by ANOVA at each time point. Within-patients methylation time course analyses for each CpG-site identifed diferent patterns based on paired t test p value and direction of change. Rapid demethylation from admission to day 3 occurred for 76.2% of the CpG-sites, of which 67.9% remained equally demethylated or partially remethylated and 32.1% further demethylated beyond day 3. From admission to day 3, 19.7% of the CpG-sites became hypermethylated, of which, beyond day 3, 34.5% remained equally hypermethylated or partially demethylated again and 65.5% further hypermethylated. For 4.1% of the CpG-sites, changes only appeared beyond day 3. Finally, for the CpG-sites afected by early-PN on the last PICU day, earlier changes in DNA methylation were compared for early-PN and late-PN patients, revealing that 38.9% were already diferentially methylated by day 3, another 25.0% by day 5 and another 13.9% by day 7. Conclusions: Critical illness- and early-PN-induced changes in DNA methylation occurred mainly within 3 days. Most abnormalities were at least partially maintained or got worse with longer time in PICU. Interventions targeting aberrant DNA methylation changes should be initiated early

Paediatric intensive care unit, PICU, Critical illness, Nutrition, Parenteral nutrition, DNA methylation, Epigenetics, Time, Time course,
Clinical Epigenetics
Department of Pediatrics

Verlinden, I., Güiza, F, Derese, I, Wouters, P.J, Joosten, K.F.M, Verbruggen, S.C.A.T, … Vanhorebeek, I. (2020). Time course of altered DNA methylation evoked by critical illness and by early administration of parenteral nutrition in the paediatric ICU. Clinical Epigenetics, 12(1). doi:10.1186/s13148-020-00947-w