The immunopathology of siliconosis. History, clinical presentation, and relation to silicosis and the chemistry of silicon and silicone

Immunol Res. 1998;18(3):125-73. doi: 10.1007/BF02788777.


Recent evidence confirms the fundamental involvement of the human immune system in the reaction to implantation of silicone-based medical devices. An as yet-to-be particularized epitope of many complex substances sharing siloxane structures is presented through the MHC-II apparatus with development and retention of T cell memory. This memory can be tested for in practical terms using one or more forms of silica, which links the immuno-histopathology and autoimmune attributes of "silicosis" with those of "siliconosis." The lesions of siliconosis are typical of those for persistent antigens and delayed, cell mediated hypersensitivity. The basic descriptive pathology of the reaction to silicone has been known since soon after introduction of silicones in medical procedures, with the exception of some details related to the more recent discoveries on the role of cytokines in the immunopathic process. The clinical consequences of siliconosis are common and can be severe in some individuals implanted with silicone devices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology*
  • Breast Implants / adverse effects*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Female
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Silicon / immunology*
  • Silicones / adverse effects*
  • Silicosis
  • Siloxanes
  • Superantigens


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Silicones
  • Siloxanes
  • Superantigens
  • Silicon