C-reactive protein: an activator of innate immunity and a modulator of adaptive immunity

Immunol Res. 2004;30(3):261-77. doi: 10.1385/IR:30:3:261.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute-phase serum protein and a member of the pentraxin protein family. Its host defense functions predate the adaptive immune system by millions of years. Our current understanding of CRP interactions with complement and with Fcgamma receptors (FcgammaR) have led to an increased appreciation of the regulatory role of CRP in inflammation and autoimmunity. This review outlines the role of CRP in infection, inflammation, and autoimmune disease. We provide a description of recent studies, which suggest that CRP acts through FcgammaR to reduce inflammation and protect from certain autoimmune diseases. A general description of the proposed function of CRP is provided as a framework for future investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Autoimmunity
  • C-Reactive Protein / chemistry
  • C-Reactive Protein / genetics
  • C-Reactive Protein / immunology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / immunology
  • Complement Activation
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Infections / etiology
  • Infections / immunology
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Ligands
  • Models, Immunological
  • Receptors, IgG / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism


  • CRP protein, human
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • C-Reactive Protein