Silicone molecules from breast implants can initiate processes in human cells that lead to cell death, according to researchers from Radboud University, in a new study published in Scientific Reports.

“However, there are still many questions about what this could mean for the health effects of silicone breast implants. More research is therefore urgently needed,” says Ger Pruijn, professor of Biomolecular Chemistry at Radboud University, in a media release.

It is a known fact that breast implants “bleed,” — in other words, silicone molecules from the implant pass through the shell and enter the body. Earlier research, in 2016, by Dr Rita Kappel, plastic surgeon, and Radboud university medical center, suggests that silicone molecules can then migrate through the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The biochemists at Radboud University next asked themselves the follow-up question: What effect might silicone molecules have on cells exposed to it?

Experiments with cultured cells suggest that silicones appear to initiate molecular processes that lead to cell death, the release explains.

“We observed similarities with molecular processes related to programmed cell death, a natural process called apoptosis that has an important function in clearing cells in our body. This effect appeared to depend on the dose of silicone and the size of the silicone molecules. The smaller the molecule, the stronger the effect,” according to Pruijn.

To investigate the effect of silicones on human cells, the researchers added small silicone molecules — which also occur in silicone breast implants — to three different types of cultured human cells.

“One cell was more sensitive to the effect of silicones than the other two cell types. This suggests that the sensitivity of human cells to silicones varies,” the researchers comment, per the release.

The effects the researchers have found lead to many new questions.

“We observed that silicones induce molecular changes in cells, but we don’t know yet whether these changes could, for example, lead to an autoimmune response, which could in part explain the negative side effects of implants,” Pruijn says.

“Caution is advised with drawing conclusions based on these findings because we used cultured cells in our research, not specific human cells such as brain cells or muscle cells. Further research is required to get more clarity.”

[Source(s): Radboud University Nijmegen, Science Daily]