Evidence of batch effects masking treatment effect in GAW20 methylation data
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Using the real data set from GAW20, we examined changes in the distribution of DNA methylation before and after treatment. Paired analysis of differences in both mean and variance had grossly inflated type 1 error, suggesting either a very large number of changes across the entire epigenome or major non-biological issues, such as batch effects. Separate analysis of Infinium I and II probes indicated differences in the paired t-test statistics between these two types of probes. Examination of combined principal components showed that the first and fourth principal components discriminate between the before and after treatment measurements, further evidencing the presence of batch effects that make any conclusions about treatment effect suspect.