C-reactive protein (CRP) is a plasma protein, an acute phase reactant produced by the liver. It was originally discovered by Tillett and Francis in 1930 as a substance in the serum of patients with acute infections that reacted with the C polypeptide of Pneumococcus. It is thought to assist in complement binding to foreign and damaged cells and affect the humoral response to disease.
It is a member of the class of acute phase reactants as its levels rise dramatically during inflammatory processes occurring in the body. Measuring and charting C-reactive protein values can prove useful in determining disease progress or the effectiveness of treatments.
Recent research suggests that patients with elevated basal levels of CRP are at an increased risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
See also: erythrocyte sedimentation rate.