Acute phase proteins with special reference to C-reactive protein and related proteins (pentaxins) and serum amyloid A protein

Adv Immunol. 1983;34:141-212. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(08)60379-x.


The acute phase response among plasma proteins is a normal response to tissue injury and is therefore a fundamental aspect of many diverse disease processes. It probably usually has a beneficial net function in limiting damage and promoting repair but in some circumstances it may have pathological consequences. Sustained high levels of acute phase proteins and especially SAA are associated with the development of amyloidosis in some individuals. Increased concentrations of CRP may, by activating the complement system, contribute to inflammation and enhance tissue damage. Failure of the normal or appropriate CRP response may also possibly have deleterious effects. SAA is a polymorphic protein which is normally present only in trace amounts but which, during the acute phase response, becomes one of the major apolipoproteins associated with high-density lipoprotein particles. The function of apoSAA is not known but it must have considerable physiological significance apart from its role as the putative precursor of amyloid A protein fibrils. CRP and SAP have been very stably conserved throughout vertebrate evolution and homologous proteins are apparently present even in vertebrates. This strongly suggests that they have important functions although these have not yet been precisely delineated. The main role of CRP may be to provide for enhanced clearance of inappropriate materials from the plasma whether these are of extrinsic origin, such as microorganisms and their products, or the autologous products of cell damage and death. The interaction between aggregated CRP and plasma low-density lipoprotein may play a significant part in the normal function of CRP and may also have a role in lipoprotein metabolism, clearance, and deposition. SAP is a normal tissue protein as well as being a plasma protein. Aggregated SAP selectively binds fibronectin and this may represent an aspect of the normal function of SAP. The deposition of SAP in amyloid is evidently not a normal function but it is not known whether this deposition is involved in the pathogenesis of amyloid or whether it is merely an epiphenomenon. In any case immunohistochemical staining for SAP is useful in the diagnosis of amyloid, in investigation of glomerulonephritis, and in studying disorders of elastic tissue. Regardless of its physiological or pathophysiological functions, the assay of serum CRP is a valuable aid to clinical management in a number of different situations and in different diseases provided results are interpreted in the light of full clinical information.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / physiology*
  • Amyloidosis / physiopathology
  • Apoproteins / physiology
  • Blood Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • C-Reactive Protein / physiology*
  • Complement Activation
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Ligands
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Prostaglandins / biosynthesis
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein / physiology
  • Serum Amyloid P-Component
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Amyloid
  • Apoproteins
  • Blood Proteins
  • Interleukin-1
  • Ligands
  • Prostaglandins
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein
  • Serum Amyloid P-Component
  • C-Reactive Protein