Function of C-reactive protein

Ann Med. 2000 May;32(4):274-8. doi: 10.3109/07853890009011772.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is an ancient highly conserved molecule and a member of the pentraxin family of proteins. CRP is secreted by the liver in response to a variety of inflammatory cytokines. Levels of CRP increase very rapidly in response to trauma, inflammation, and infection and decrease just as rapidly with the resolution of the condition. Thus, the measurement of CRP is widely used to monitor various inflammatory states. CRP binds to damaged tissue, to nuclear antigens and to certain pathogenic organisms in a calcium-dependent manner. The function of CRP is felt to be related to its role in the innate immune system. Similar to immunoglobulin (Ig)G, it activates complement, binds to Fc receptors and acts as an opsonin for various pathogens. Interaction of CRP with Fc receptors leads to the generation of proinflammatory cytokines that enhance the inflammatory response. Unlike IgG, which specifically recognizes distinct antigenic epitopes, CRP recognizes altered self and foreign molecules based on pattern recognition. Thus, CRP is though to act as a surveillance molecule for altered self and certain pathogens. This recognition provides early defense and leads to a proinflammatory signal and activation of the humoural, adaptive immune system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Antigen Presentation
  • C-Reactive Protein / immunology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • C-Reactive Protein / physiology*
  • Complement Activation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunologic Surveillance
  • Infections / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Receptors, Fc
  • C-Reactive Protein