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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 604187, 11 pages
Review Article

Silicon, a Possible Link between Environmental Exposure and Autoimmune Diseases: The Case of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Center for Autoimmune Diseases Research (CREA), School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universidad del Rosario, Carrera 24 No. 63C-69, Bogotá, Colombia

Received 7 August 2012; Accepted 13 September 2012

Academic Editor: Francesco Trotta

Copyright © 2012 Cesar A. Speck-Hernandez and Gladis Montoya-Ortiz. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Silicon is one of the most common chemicals on earth. Several compounds such as silica, asbestos, silicone or, nanoparticles are built from tetrahedral units with silicon as the central atom. Despite these, structural similarities, they have rarely been analyzed as a group. These compounds generate significant biological alterations that include immune hyperactivation, production of the reactive species of oxygen and tissue injury. These pathological processes may trigger autoimmune responses and lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Populations at risk include those that constantly work in industrial process, mining, and agriculture as well as those that undergo silicone implants. Herein a review on the main features of these compounds and how they may induce autoimmune responses is presented.