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Epigenetics is the study of alterations in the function of genes that do not involve changes in the DNA sequence. Within the critical care literature, it is a relatively new and exciting avenue of research in describing pathology, clinical course, and developing targeted therapies to improve outcomes. In this paper, we highlight current research relative to critical care that is focused within the major epigenetic mechanisms of DNA methylation, histone modification, microRNA regulation, and composite epigenetic scoring. Within this emerging body of research it is quite clear that the novel therapies of the future will require clinicians to understand and navigate an even more complex and multivariate relationship between genetic, epigenetic, and biochemical mechanisms in conjunction with clinical presentation and course in order to significantly improve outcomes within the acute and critically ill population.

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Nursing Research and Practice, v. 2013, art. 503686