Epigenetic biomarkers for human sepsis and septic shock: insights from immunosuppression

Epigenomics. 2020 Apr;12(7):617-646. doi: 10.2217/epi-2019-0329. Epub 2020 May 12.


Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body responds to an infection damaging its own tissues. Sepsis survivors sometimes suffer from immunosuppression increasing the risk of death. To our best knowledge, there is no 'gold standard' for defining immunosuppression except for a composite clinical end point. As the immune system is exposed to epigenetic changes during and after sepsis, research that focuses on identifying new biomarkers to detect septic patients with immunoparalysis could offer new epigenetic-based strategies to predict short- and long-term pathological events related to this life-threatening state. This review describes the most relevant epigenetic mechanisms underlying alterations in the innate and adaptive immune responses described in sepsis and septic shock, and their consequences for immunosuppression states, providing several candidates to become epigenetic biomarkers that could improve sepsis management and help predict immunosuppression in postseptic patients.

Keywords: DNA methylation; PICS; circulating histones; epigenetic biomarkers; histones PTMs; immunosuppression; miRNAs; sepsis; septic shock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't