Researchers have developed a cytokine assay that can be used to help identify malignant seromas related to breast implants.

According to a recent study, more than 700 women with textured breast implants have developed anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This condition is diagnosed by anaplastic morphology and CD30 expression; however, the researchers wanted to expedite diagnosis in symptomatic patients. 

This study tested cytokine patterns that might allow for distinction of malignant seromas from benign seromas. The researchers developed an immunologic assay using only 50 mcL of aspirated seroma fluid. The assay measures 13 cytokines simultaneously by flow cytometry. 

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By comparing malignant and benign seromas, they found that levels of IL-9, IL-10, IL-13, IL-22, and interferon gamma greater than 1000 pg/mL distinguished malignant seromas from benign. 

According to the researchers, “this has potential for clinical decisions on patient management, therapeutic intervention, and clarifying the pathogenesis of BIA-ALCL.”

IL-6, which is a driver of malignant cells, was elevated in benign seromas but did not distinguish them from malignant seromas. 

“This observation may support the concept that BIA-ALCL progresses from a lymphoproliferative disorder in which IL-6 promotes the growth of non-neoplastic lymphocytes through JAK/STAT signaling,” the researchers wrote. 


Kadin ME, Morgan J, Kouttab N, et al. Comparative analysis of cytokines of tumor cell lines, malignant and benign effusions around breast implants. Aesthet Surg J. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjz243