What CRP Can Tell a Doctor
The C-reactive protein is not specific but very sensitive for inflammatory disease.
Hi, I’m Dr. Bob Lahita, Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. I’m going to talk to you about something called CRP, or C-reactive protein.This is a very popular acute-phase reactant, which simply means that it’s not very specific. Some doctors use the C-reactive protein and another agent called the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or ESR, to measure clinical activity when there is inflammation in the body. Both of those are acute-phase reactants. The CRP, however, indicates significant inflammatory disease, and we have something called the cardiac CRP, or C-reactive protein, which when elevated is supposed to indicate a certain degree of inflammation of the heart.But for our intents and purposes, the arthritic C-reactive protein is what we’re interested in, and that is an acute-phase reactant. When it is up above the normal range, it indicates that there is inflammation, and in rheumatoid arthritis, it can be very, very high. In other conditions where there’s inflammation such as inflammation of the heart valves, or inflammation of the lung or an infectious process somewhere in the body, the C-reactive protein can also be elevated. So, I’m saying that it is not specific but very sensitive for inflammatory disease.For more information about this, go to About.com.