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Background and aimsOver the past decade, the DNA methylome has been increasingly studied in peripheral blood of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. However, a comprehensive summary and meta-analysis of peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) DNA methylation studies has thus far not been conducted. Here, we systematically reviewed all available literature up to February 2022 and summarized the observations by means of meta-analysis.MethodsWe conducted a systematic search and critical appraisal of IBD-associated DNA methylation studies in PBL using the biomarker-based cross-sectional studies (BIOCROSS) tool. Subsequently, we performed meta-analyses on the summary statistics obtained from epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) that included patients with Crohn's Disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and/or healthy controls (HC).ResultsAltogether, we included 15 studies for systematic review. Critical appraisal revealed large methodological and outcome heterogeneity between studies. Summary statistics were obtained from 4 studies based on a cumulative 552 samples (177 CD, 132 UC and 243 HC). Consistent differential methylation was identified for 256 differentially methylated probes (DMPs; Bonferroni-adjusted p-value ≤0.05) when comparing CD with HC and 103 when comparing UC with HC. Comparing IBD (CD + UC) with HC resulted in 224 DMPs. Importantly, several of the previously identified DMPs, such as VMP1/TMEM49/MIR21 and RPS6KA2, were consistently differentially methylated across all studies.ConclusionMethodological homogenization of IBD epigenetic studies is needed to allow for easier aggregation and independent validation. Nonetheless, we were capable of confirming previous observations. Our results can serve as the basis for future IBD epigenetic biomarker research in PBL.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Crohn's & colitis

Publication Date



Amsterdam UMC location University of Amsterdam, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, Netherlands.