Medical Definition of C-Reactive Protein Test (CRP)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

C-Reactive Protein Test (CRP): A plasma protein that rises in the blood with the inflammation from certain conditions.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the plasma proteins known as acute-phase proteins: proteins whose plasma concentrations increase (or decrease) by 25% or more during inflammatory disorders.

CRP can rise as high as 1000-fold with inflammation. Conditions that commonly lead to marked changes in CRP include infection, trauma, surgery, burns, inflammatory conditions, and advanced cancer. Moderate changes occur after strenuous exercise, heatstroke, and childbirth. Small changes occur after psychological stress and in several psychiatric illnesses.

CRP is therefore a test of value in medicine, reflecting the presence and intensity of inflammation, although an elevation in C-reactive protein is not the telltale diagnostic sign of any one condition.

Since inflammation is believed to play a major role in the development of coronary artery disease, markers of inflammation have been tested in respect to heart health. CRP may be used to stratify risk for coronary disease in addition to traditional factors such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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