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Curr Opin Lipidol. 2005 Oct;16(5):512-7.

A proatherogenic role for C-reactive protein in vivo.

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  • 1Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



We have selectively reviewed some of the latest papers on the mechanistic role of C-reactive protein in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.


C-reactive protein is known to activate the classic pathway of the complement system. One paper examined the role of C-reactive protein in complement activation by enzymatically remodeled LDL proteins. Enzymatically remodeled LDL was found to induce complement activation with or without C-reactive protein, but in the presence of C-reactive protein the activation of complement halted before its terminal sequence. Complement activation by C-reactive protein in atherogenesis remains controversial. Different laboratories have reported the multi-organ origin of C-reactive protein. The atherosclerotic lesion itself is another place where C-reactive protein could be produced. Numerous studies have continued to dissect the potential diverse proatherogenic actions of C-reactive protein on cultured vascular cells. Caution must be exercised in inadequately controlled studies that have unwittingly used commercial C-reactive protein preparations contaminated by other bioactive components. In contrast to in-vitro experiments, in-vivo studies that support a proatherogenic role of C-reactive protein are less likely to be subject to misinterpretation.


Evidence suggests that C-reactive protein is a proatherogenic molecule that plays an active role. The amount of C-reactive protein in lesions is determined by its plasma levels and its local production. The biological effect of C-reactive protein on atherosclerosis development seems to encompass a complex network of interactions with other players in immunity and inflammation, such as the complement system, as well as a direct effect of C-reactive protein on the cells involved in lesion growth and development.

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