Effect of intermittent versus continuous low-dose aspirin on nasal epithelium gene expression in current smokers: A randomized, double-blinded trial

Linda L. Garland, Jose Guillen-Rodriguez, Chiu Hsieh Hsu, Michael Yozwiak, Hao Helen Zhang, David S. Alberts, Lisa E. Davis, Eva Szabo, Carter Merenstein, Julian Lel, Xiaohui Zhang, Hanqiao Liu, Gang Liu, Avrum E. Spira, Jennifer E. Beane, Malgorzata Wojtowicz, H. H. Sherry Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A chemopreventive effect of aspirin (ASA) on lung cancer risk is supported by epidemiologic and preclinical studies. We conducted a randomized, double-blinded study in current heavy smokers to compare modulating effects of intermittent versus continuous low-dose ASA on nasal epithelium gene expression and arachidonic acid (ARA) metabolism. Fifty-four participants were randomized to intermittent (ASA 81 mg daily for one week/placebo for one week) or continuous (ASA 81 mg daily) for 12 weeks. Low-dose ASA suppressed urinary prostaglandin E2 metabolite (PGEM; change of -4.55 ± 11.52 from baseline 15.44 ± 13.79 ng/mg creatinine for arms combined, P ¼ 0.02), a surrogate of COX-mediated ARA metabolism, but had minimal effects on nasal gene expression of nasal or bronchial gene-expression signatures associated with smoking, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Suppression of urinary PGEM correlated with favorable changes in a smoking-associated gene signature (P < 0.01). Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) showed that ASA intervention led to 1,079 enriched gene sets from the Canonical Pathways within the Molecular Signatures Database. In conclusion, low-dose ASA had minimal effects on known carcinogenesis gene signatures in nasal epithelium of current smokers but results in wide-ranging genomic changes in the nasal epithelium, demonstrating utility of nasal brushings as a surrogate to measure gene-expression responses to chemoprevention. PGEM may serve as a marker for smoking-associated gene-expression changes and systemic inflammation. Future studies should focus on NSAIDs or agent combinations with broader inhibition of pro-inflammatory ARA metabolism to shift gene signatures in an anti-carcinogenic direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-819
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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