C-Reactive Protein Gene Issues Not Linked to Disease

Anticipated increase in ischemic vascular disease caused by higher CRP levels wasn't actually seen

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- C-reactive protein gene polymorphisms are associated with higher CRP levels but not a higher risk of ischemic heart or cerebrovascular disease, according to research published in the Oct. 30 New England Journal of Medicine.

Jeppe Zacho, M.D., of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues analyzed data from four Danish cohorts, using the groups to explore different aspects of whether genetically elevated CRP levels cause higher risks of ischemic heart and cerebrovascular disease. The researchers measured levels of high-sensitivity CRP and genotyped for four polymorphisms in the CRP gene.

The risk of ischemic heart and cerebrovascular disease was increased by factors of 1.6 and 1.3, respectively, in people who had CRP levels of more than 3 milligrams per liter as compared with those who had CRP levels of less than 1 milligram per liter. Genotype combinations of the CRP polymorphisms were associated with higher CRP levels that predicted a potentially increased disease risk, but these combinations weren't actually associated with an increased risk of ischemic vascular disease.

" This finding suggests that the increase in the risk of ischemic vascular disease associated with higher plasma CRP levels observed in epidemiologic studies may not be causal, but rather that increased CRP levels are simply a marker for atherosclerosis and ischemic vascular disease," the authors conclude.

Several co-authors disclosed financial relationships with a variety of pharmaceutical companies.

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