C-reactive protein is released in the coronary circulation and causes endothelial dysfunction in patients with acute coronary syndromes

Int J Cardiol. 2011 Oct 6;152(1):7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.05.062. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


Background: C-reactive protein (CRP) plasma levels correlate with cardiovascular events. Although a direct role for CRP in atherothrombosis has been suggested, at the moment little is known about its involvement in the pathophysiology of acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Thus, the aim of this study was to determine whether CRP is produced in the culprit lesion and released within the coronary circulation of patients with ACS and whether it may affect coronary endothelial function.

Methods: Blood samples were simultaneously obtained from the aorta (Ao) and the coronary sinus (CS) of patients with normal coronary artery (n=16), stable angina (n=30), and ACS (n=29) for later measurement of plasma CRP levels. Endothelium-dependent and -independent coronary vasodilation were evaluated by means of a Doppler Flow Wire in response to the increasing intracoronary doses of acetylcholine and adenosine, respectively.

Results: CRP plasma levels were significantly higher across the coronary circulation only in ACS patients with the culprit lesion located in the left coronary artery, while no differences between CS and Ao CRP plasma levels were observed in all other groups. Transcardiac CRP levels were correlated with impairment in coronary endothelium-dependent vasodilation. In six additional patients (SA=3 and ACS=3), subjected to coronary atherectomy, real-time quantitative PCR revealed presence of CRP mRNA only in unstable plaques.

Conclusions: Thus, CRP is produced and released within the coronary circulation of patients with ACS; this is associated with impairment of endothelial function, suggesting a new pathophysiological link between CRP and ACS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Aged
  • Aorta / physiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / genetics*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology*
  • Coronary Sinus / physiology
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • C-Reactive Protein