A twin study of C-Reactive Protein compared to other risk factors for coronary heart disease

Atherosclerosis. 2003 Aug;169(2):279-82. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9150(03)00192-8.


Coronary heart disease (CHD) tends to cluster in families, and several established risk factors for the disease are to some extent inherited. Inflammation plays a key role in the development of atherosclerosis and CHD. A low-grade inflammation may be detected by highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein (CRP) determination, which is strongly associated to CHD. In order to uncover any role of genetics in low-grade inflammation, we measured CRP in healthy monozygotic twins. The within-pair correlation coefficient of CRP was 0.40, suggesting an important genetic contribution to the control of CRP level. CRP correlated significantly to other CHD risk factors like body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, plasma fibrinogen, serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, plasma homocysteine, and serum triglycerides. Of these variables, BMI was most significantly associated to CRP in a linear multiple regression analysis. We conclude that CRP level (reflecting a low-grade inflammation) exhibits a moderate, but significant degree of heritability. The association between CRP and BMI, which has a larger degree of heritability, could partly explain the heritability of serum CRP level.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Coronary Disease / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / analysis
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Twins, Monozygotic


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Homocysteine
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein