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

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Clinical Epigenetics
Department of Pediatrics

Verlinden, I., Güiza, F., Derese, I., Wouters, P., Joosten, K., Verbruggen, S., … 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