The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a biomarker of systemic inflammation and can be estimated using DNA methylation data as methylation-derived NLR (mdNLR). We examined associations between mdNLR and lung cancer risk in a nested case-control study, and among the cases, lung cancer survival, using pre-diagnostic blood samples of cases (median of 14 years before diagnosis) and controls in the CLUE I/II cohorts. The final analytic dataset included 208 pairs of lung cancer cases and controls matched on age, sex, and smoking intensity. We computed the mdNLR for each sample based on immune cell-proportion estimates obtained using established reference-based deconvolution methods. Using conditional logistic regression (to take into account matching factors), and further adjusting for BMI, batch effects, and a smoking-based methylation score, we observed a 47% increased risk of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for one standard deviation increase in mdNLR (n = 150 pairs; OR: 1.47 [1.08, 2.02]). To estimate association between mdNLR and lung cancer survival, we used Cox proportional-hazards models, adjusting age, sex, smoking status, smoking methylation score, BMI, batch effect, and stage. We observed a 27% increased risk of dying from lung cancer for one standard deviation increase in mdNLR (n = 145 deaths in 205 cases; HR: 1.27 [1.08, 1.50]). A 50% increased risk of dying from lung cancer for one standard deviation increase in mdNLR was observed for NSCLC cases (n = 103 deaths in 149 cases; HR: 1.50 [1.19, 1.89]). A better understanding of inflammation-associated biomarkers in lung cancer development could provide insight into critical pathways that may help identify new markers of early disease and survival.

Citation Format: Naisi Zhao, Mengyuan Ruan, Devin Koestler, Jiayun Lu, Carmen Marsit, Karl Kelsey, Elizabeth Platz, Dominique S. Michaud. Methylation-derived neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and lung cancer risk and survival [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr LB086.