High-sensitivity C-reactive protein as cardiovascular risk marker in patients with diabetes mellitus

Diabetes Technol Ther. 2006 Feb;8(1):28-36. doi: 10.1089/dia.2006.8.28.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is a liver-derived pattern recognition molecule that is increased in inflammatory states. It rapidly increases within hours after tissue injury, and it is suggested that it is part of the innate immune system and contributes to host defense. Since cardiovascular disease is at least in part an inflammatory process, CRP has been investigated in the context of arteriosclerosis and subsequent vascular disorders. Based on multiple epidemiological and intervention studies, minor CRP elevation [high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP)] has been shown to be associated with future major cardiovascular risk (hsCRP:<1 mg/L=low risk; 1-3 mg/L=intermediate risk; 3-10 mg/L=high risk; >10 mg/L=unspecific elevation). It is recommended by the American Heart Association that patients at intermediate or high risk of coronary heart disease may benefit from measurement of hsCRP with regard to their individual risk prediction. Elevation of hsCRP is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes development in patients with all levels of metabolic syndrome. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, hemoglobin A1c significantly correlates with hsCRP levels and future cardiovascular risk. Also, hsCRP levels increase with the stage of beta-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance. Non-diabetes drugs that have been shown to reduce hsCRP concentrations include aspirin, statins, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, and fibrates. Recent intervention studies have also demonstrated the distinct efficacy of different anti-diabetes treatments on a variety of cardiovascular risk markers. Intensive insulin therapy may reduce inflammation, but this effect may be influenced by the degree of weight gain. Treatment with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma has lead to substantial reduction of hsCRP and other cardiovascular risk markers in several comparator studies. Since this effect was shown to be independent of the degree of glycemic improvement, it can be regarded as a classspecific effect. Whether these findings translate into a reduction of overall cardiovascular mortality will soon be shown by the currently running thiazolidinedione outcome studies. Positive results in these trials will further strengthen the value and acceptance of hsCRP, which is recommended as a predictive laboratory marker for cardiovascular disease risk also in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation / diagnosis*
  • PPAR gamma / agonists
  • Prevalence


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • PPAR gamma
  • C-Reactive Protein