Silicon Exposure and Vasculitis
Silicon (Si) has a molecular mass of 28 Da. In nature, silicon is found as silicon dioxide (silica, SiO2) or in a variety of silicates (e.g., in talc or asbestos). Furthermore, silicon is present in silicones, a polymer of [SiO(CH3)2]n. Silica is abundant in rock, sand, and soil. Exposure to silicon-containing compounds has long been recognized as dangerous for humans, especially because inhalation of crystalline silica can result in serious occupational lung fibrosis (i.e., silicosis). Silicon exposure is associated with different systemic autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, progressive systemic sclerosis, and vasculitis. Within the spectrum of autoimmune diseases that can be induced by silicon-containing compounds, probably the strongest effect is on the induction of vasculitis that is caused by antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA). The association is especially strong with...
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