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This article is part of the supplement: Epigenetics and Chromatin: Interactions and processes

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Effect of cell separation on gene expression and DNA methylation profiles in intestinal epithelial cells

M Molitor12, J Postberg1, V Orth1, M Zilbauer2 and AC Jenke1*

  • * Corresponding author: AC Jenke

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neonatology, HELIOS Children’s Hospital, Witten/Herdecke University, Germany

2 Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, UK

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Epigenetics & Chromatin 2013, 6(Suppl 1):P32  doi:10.1186/1756-8935-6-S1-P32

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:18 March 2013

© 2013 Molitor et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Poster presentation

Epigenetic signatures are highly cell type specific. Separation of distinct cell populations is therefore a prerequisite for all epigenetic studies. To date little information is available whether separation protocols might influence epigenetic and/or geneexpression signatures. We therefore investigated the influence of two frequently used protocols to isolate intestinal epithelium cells (lECs) – EDTA/DTT and enzymatic release –on gene expression and DNA methylation patterns of lECs obtained from 6 healthy individuals. While cell purity was >95% using both approaches, gene expression analysis revealed significantly higher mRNA levels of several inflammatory genes in EDTA/DTT when compared to enzymatically released cells. In contrast, DNA methylation of selected genes was less variable but tended to be lower in inflammatory and higher in maintenance genes in EDTA/DTT released cells. Taken together, this highlights the importance of considering the effect of cell separation procedures particularly when it comes to correlating epigenetic changes with gene expression.