C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body. It is a type of acute phase reactant, which means its levels rise rapidly in response to inflammation or tissue injury. CRP is measured in blood tests and is used as a marker of inflammation in various medical conditions.
CRP levels are often used to diagnose and monitor infections, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease. High levels of CRP have also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, as chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
CRP levels can be elevated for many reasons, so it is important to interpret results in the context of other clinical information. In general, higher levels of CRP indicate more severe inflammation or disease activity, and lower levels indicate a decreased risk of inflammation-related complications.
Treatment for conditions associated with elevated CRP levels often involves addressing the underlying cause of inflammation, such as infection or autoimmune disease. In some cases, medications that reduce inflammation, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may also be prescribed.