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Background & aimsThere is great current interest in the potential application of DNA methylation alterations in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) as biomarkers of susceptibility, progression and treatment response in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the intra-individual stability of PBL methylation in IBD has not been characterised. Here, we studied the long-term stability of all probes located on the Illumina HumanMethylation EPIC BeadChip array.MethodsWe followed a cohort of 46 adult IBD patients (36 Crohn's disease (CD), 10 ulcerative colitis (UC), median age 44 (IQR: 27-56), 50% female) that received standard care follow-up at the Amsterdam UMC. Paired PBL samples were collected at two time points with a median 7 (range: 2-9) years in between. Differential methylation and intra-class correlation (ICC) analyses were used to identify time-associated differences and temporally stable CpGs, respectively.ResultsAround 60% of all EPIC array loci presented poor intra-individual stability (ICC <0.50); 78.114 (≈9%) showed good (ICC 0.75 - 0.89); and 41.274 (≈5%) excellent (ICC ≥0.90) stability, between both measured time points. Focusing on previously identified consistently differentially methylated positions indicated that 22 CD-, 11 UC-, and 24 IBD-associated loci demonstrated high stability (ICC ≥0.75) over time; of these, we observed a marked stability of CpG loci associated to the HLA genes.ConclusionOur data provide insight into the long-term stability of the PBL DNA methylome within an IBD context, facilitating the selection of biologically relevant and robust IBD-associated epigenetic biomarkers with increased potential for independent validation. These data also have potential implications in understanding disease pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology

Publication Date



Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Amsterdam Gastroenterology Endocrinology Metabolism, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.