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.
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.