Association between high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and coronary atherosclerosis in a general middle-aged population

Sci Rep. 2023 Jul 27;13(1):12171. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-39051-3.


Despite abundant knowledge about the relationship between inflammation and coronary atherosclerosis, it is still unknown whether systemic inflammation measured as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) is associated with coronary atherosclerosis in a general population. This study aimed to examine the association between hsCRP and coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA)-detected coronary atherosclerosis in a population-based cohort. Out of 30,154 randomly invited men and women aged 50 to 64 years in the Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study (SCAPIS), 25,408 had a technically acceptable CCTA and analysed hsCRP. Coronary atherosclerosis was defined as presence of plaque of any degree in any of 18 coronary segments. HsCRP values were categorised in four groups. Compared with hsCRP below the detection limit, elevated hsCRP (≥ 2.3 mg/L) was weakly associated with any coronary atherosclerosis (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.07-1.24), coronary diameter stenosis ≥ 50% (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.09-1.47), ≥ 4 segments involved (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.01-1.26 ) and severe atherosclerosis (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.05-1.69) after adjustment for age, sex and traditional risk factors. The associations were attenuated after further adjustment for body mass index (BMI), although elevated hsCRP still associated with noncalcified plaques (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.02-1.32), proposed to be more vulnerable. In conclusion, the additional value of hsCRP to traditional risk factors in detection of coronary atherosclerosis is low. The association to high-risk noncalcified plaques, although unlikely through a causal pathway, could explain the relationship between hsCRP and clinical coronary events in numerous studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis* / epidemiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Coronary Angiography / methods
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Risk Factors


  • C-Reactive Protein