The surface stress of biomedical silicones is a stimulant of cellular response

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Science Advances  10 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 15, eaay0076
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0076


Silicones are commonly used for lubrication of syringes, encapsulation of medical devices, and fabrication of surgical implants. While silicones are generally viewed as relatively inert to the cellular milieu, they can mediate a variety of inflammatory responses and other deleterious effects, but the mechanisms underlying the bioactivity of silicones remain unresolved. Here, we report that silicone liquids and gels have high surface stresses that can strongly resist deformation at cellular length scales. Biomedical silicones, including syringe lubricants and fillings from FDA-approved breast implants, readily adsorb matrix proteins and activate canonical rigidity sensing pathways through their surface stresses. In 3D culture models, liquid silicone droplets support robust cellular adhesion and the formation of multinucleated monocyte-derived cell masses that recapitulate phenotypic aspects of granuloma formation in the foreign body response. Together, our findings implicate surface stress as a cellular stimulant that should be considered in application of silicones for biomedical purposes.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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