Objective: Recent evidence suggests that immunologic abnormalities are not uncommon in individuals with silicone breast implants. The purpose of our study was to evaluate in a consecutive manner, the prevalence of autoimmunity as assessed by the presence of antinuclear antibodies in a larger number of patients with silicone breast implants.
Methods: Antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing using an indirect immunofluorescence technique was performed on 813 individuals with silicone breast implants. All subjects except for 3 transsexual males, were female. The overwhelming majority, over 99%, were white. The average age of the subjects was 46.2, with a range of 17 to 72 years.
Results: ANA positivity was found in 244 of 813 individuals (30%) using a mouse kidney substrate; and in 470 of 813 (57.8%) using a HEp-2 cell line. The most common immunofluorescent pattern found using HEp-2 was speckled, present in 341 (72.5%) individuals, followed by homogeneous pattern in 113 (24%), nucleolar in 63 (13.4%), and 5 (1.06%) were anticentromere. Anti-dsDNA antibodies measured by an ELISA assay were found in 6 of 71 patients (8%). Rheumatoid factor and C-reactive protein were found above healthy controls in less than 10% of cases studied. The high prevalence of ANA found in patients with silicone breast implants agrees with similar observations by others. The finding of anticentromere and nucleolar patterns has great interest and relevance. These fairly distinct ANA patterns are most commonly seen in the idiopathic form of scleroderma and related conditions.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that ANA positivity is relatively common in individuals with silicone breast implants, and may support the existence of autoimmune mechanisms in the pathogenesis of the clinical manifestations seen in this population.