C-reactive protein: How conformational changes influence inflammatory properties Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent evidence suggests that the prototypic acute phase reactant C-reactive protein (CRP) is not only a marker but also a potential contributor to inflammatory diseases. CRP belongs to the family of pentraxins and as such consists of five identical non-covalently linked subunits. Contradictory data on the characteristics of CRP as either being pro- or anti-inflammatory may be explained by the existence of two conformations of the protein: the circulating native, pentameric CRP (pCRP) and the monomeric isoform (mCRP), formed as a result of a dissociation process of pCRP. In vitro both isoforms exhibit a very distinct inflammatory profile. We recently identified a localized, physiologically relevant pCRP dissociation mechanism by activated platelets and apoptotic cells and showed the deposition of mCRP in inflamed tissue. Here we review the literature on the causal role of pCRP and mCRP in the light of our findings and critically analyze the current controversies around CRP. The novel understanding of the localized dissociation of circulating pentameric CRP to the distinctively pro-inflammatory monomeric CRP allows for a new view on CRP in inflammatory reactions and further highlights mCRP and the pCRP dissociation process as a potential therapeutic target.


  • Eisenhardt, Steffen U
  • Thiele, Jan R
  • Bannasch, Holger
  • Stark, G Bjorn
  • Peter, Karlheinz

publication date

  • December 2009