Medical-grade silicone induces release of proinflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells without activating T cells

J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2009 Aug;90(2):510-20. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.31312.


For more than 40 years, silicone implants had been employed in aesthetic, cosmetic medicine, and plastic surgery. Although adverse reactions produced by these products are rare, cases of immuno-mediated reactions have been reported. To evaluate the aspects of immuno-reactivity to medical-grade silicone dermal filler, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 39 individuals were studied. PBMC used include individuals with silicone injection-related delayed adverse reactions, with silicone injections, and healthy control. Silicone induced production of TNF-alpha and IL-6 in all three groups. Notably, elevated production of IL-6 was observed in nonstimulated PBMC and also the percentage of CD4(+)CD69(+) T cells was higher in PHA-stimulated PBMC from individuals with silicone injection-related adverse reactions when compared with other two groups. However, IFN-gamma was not released in silicone-stimulated or silicone+LPS-stimulated PBMC from any group and no production of IL-2 was measured indicating no proliferative response of PBMC. Subsequently, no CD4(+)CD69(+) T cells were observed in these conditions. Finally, the inflammatory response in silicone-stimulated cultures of monocyte-derived macrophages with autologous lymphocytes is lesser than that observed in PBMC. In conclusion, silicone induces a release of proinflammatory cytokines but does not act as a polyclonal activator of CD4(+) T cells. Thus, silicone is mounting an immune response in individuals with silicone-related adverse effects but is not silicone antigen-dependent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / biosynthesis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Silicones / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Silicones
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma