Background: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use is associated with decreased risk of some cancers. NSAID use modulates the epigenetic profile of normal colonic epithelium and may reduce risk of colon cancer through this pathway; however, the effect of NSAID use on the DNA methylation profile of other tissues including whole blood has not yet been examined.
Findings: Using the Sister Study cohort, we examined the association between NSAID usage and whole genome methylation patterns in blood DNA. Blood DNA methylation status across 27,589 CpG sites was evaluated for 871 women using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 Beadchip, and in a non-overlapping replication sample of 187 women at 485,512 CpG sites using the Infinium HumanMethylation450 Beadchip. We identified a number of CpG sites that were differentially methylated in regular, long-term users of NSAIDs in the discovery group, but none of these sites were statistically significant in our replication group.
Conclusions: We found no replicable methylation differences in blood related to NSAID usage. If NSAID use does effect blood DNA methylation patterns, differences are likely small.