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Effects of Inhaled Corticosteroids on DNA Methylation in Peripheral Blood Cells in Children with Asthma
PDPI Jatim, 23 Nov 2019 07:58:55


Background: Asthma, an inflammatory airway disease, is treated with bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids. Recently, methylation differences have been related to childhood asthma and systemic steroid treatment.

Aim: To investigate if inhaled corticosteroid exposure affects DNA methylation in peripheral blood cells in children with asthma.

Methods: We studied 8-year-olds with asthma ever (n=215) from the BAMSE cohort based on their asthma medication in the last year: any asthma medication (n=130), any inhaled corticosteroids (n=107) and continuous inhaled corticosteroids (n=39). The reference group comprised of asthma subjects with no medication. Epigenome-wide methylation data (Illumina 450K) was used for robust linear regression. Each model was adjusted for age, sex and other potential confounders. Data from the STOPPA cohort (n=173) and BAMSE 16-year follow-up (n=96) were used for replication and meta-analyses. P values below the FDR were considered statistically significant; BH procedure controlled the FDR at 5 %.

Results: Methylation levels at 25 CpGs were significantly associated with asthma treatment in any of the treatment groups in BAMSE. None of the CpGs were nominally significant in the replication analyses or FDR significant in the meta-analysis. We also looked at asthma and corticosteroid exposure-associated CpGs identified in two previous studies (Xu CJ, Lancet RM 2018; Wan S, AJRCCM 2012), and found no CpGs that survived multiple testing adjustment.

Conclusion: We found no robust evidence that inhaled corticosteroids or other asthma medication affect peripheral blood cell DNA methylation levels in children with asthma, though smaller effects cannot be excluded.

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