Immunological Effects of Silicone
    Provided By: TDN
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 16:28:29 -0700
                                       Key words: autoimmune disease, bioeffects, breast implants, silicone gel, research


Autoimmune diseases have been reported in women with silicone breast implants.  The presence of autoantibodies in some of the  women, as well as studies in  experimental animals, suggest that silicone may play a role in these adverse  effects on the immune system. The goal of this project is  to determine if  autoantibodies will be formed in animals that are injected with connective tissue proteins mixed with silicone gel from a breast implant, or with silicone gel or silicone  oil alone.

Our earlier studies have shown that silicone gel/oil can promote autoantibody  production against the connective tissue proteins, collagen, and can migrate  from the implant site to other parts of the body.  Based on our results in experimental animals, we have looked for autoantibodies to connective tissue proteins in women with breast implants.  Serum samples of 180 women have been analyzed for autoantibodies to  collagen, a  connective tissue protein. Patients included women with or  without breast  implants, with or without autoimmune symptoms, and from  normal controls.  Autoantibodies to collagen were detected in patients with  connective tissue  disease silicone breast implants,  with  connective tissue disease without silicone  breast  implants,  and  with silicone  breast  implants  without connective tissue disease.  Autoantibodies to collagen were not detected  in control sera from normal  volunteers. This data base will be expanded to  include more patients in  order to further substantiate these findings. Published studies also have shown that animals with autoimmune disease  produce antibodies against their own DNA. We have found anti-DNA antibodies in  the serum of experimental animals injected with silicone gel/oil. Based on these  results we will determine if women with breast implants also produce autoantibodies against DNA.