C-reactive protein levels are associated with cerebral small vessel-related lesions

Acta Neurol Scand. 2016 Jan;133(1):68-74. doi: 10.1111/ane.12440. Epub 2015 May 14.


Objective: Inflammation has received increasing attention as a cause of stroke. Although several lines of evidence suggest that inflammatory processes have a role in arteriosclerotic vascular events, their involvement remains to be determined. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between serum high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels and cerebral small vessel (CSV)-related lesions as a manifestation of arteriosclerosis.

Materials and methods: Neurologically normal subjects without any history of neurologic or psychiatric diseases were enrolled (n = 519). All the participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and their CSV-related lesions (i.e., lacunar infarcts, cerebral microbleeds, deep white matter hyperintensity, and periventricular hyperintensity) were evaluated. The serum levels of hs-CRP were evaluated as common inflammatory markers.

Results: Subjects with higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels had more lacunar infarcts (P = 0.02). After adjusting for the traditional cardiovascular risk factors, higher hs-CRP levels were still associated with the presence of lacunar infarcts [odds ratio for the highest vs the lowest tertile of hs-CRP, 3.57 (95% confidence interval: 1.30-9.80)]. These associations did not change when the logarithmically transformed values for hs-CRP were included. Furthermore, subjects with higher CRP levels had more cerebral microbleeds (P = 0.03), more severe deep white matter hyperintensity (P = 0.04), and periventricular hyperintensity (P = 0.04); however, these associations were not observed after adjusting for the cardiovascular risk factors.

Conclusions: Higher levels of hs-CRP were associated with lacunar infarcts. Thus, inflammatory processes may be involved in the pathogenesis of small-vessel disease.

Keywords: cerebral small vessel-related lesions; high-sensitive C-reactive protein; lacunar infarcts; silent brain lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / blood*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein