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C-reactive protein levels

C-reactive protein is a protein that measures general levels of inflammation in your body or an acute-phase protein. It should not be confused with C-peptide which is produced in the intestine and by fat cells (adipocytes).

C-reactive protein is a member of the class of acute-phase reactants, which means that when there is an inflammation in the body, the level of C-reactive protein (CRP) raises dramatically. This raise is due to an increase in the plasma concentration of interleukin-6 (IL-6) produced predominately by macrophages and adipocytes.

In addition to being an indicator of acute inflammation, its principal functions are believed to be to assist in the complementary binding of damaged cells or recognized as “foreign” to improve the phagocytosis of the macrophages and play a part in the innate immune system as a first defense system against infections.

C-reactive protein is used mainly to determine when the inflammation that is being produced in the organism started. Normal levels of C-reactive protein increase in 6 hours and reach their maximum in 48 hours. Its average life is constant and, therefore, its level is determined principally by the rate of production ( and consequently, the seriousness of the cause). Except in the case of hepatic failure, there are few factors that alter the production levels of C-reactive protein.

To measure and quantify the level of C-reactive protein can be useful to determine the effectiveness of a treatment or to know how advanced an illness or infection is. Normal levels of C-reactive protein in blood samples are less than 5 or 6 mg per liter of blood. Viral infections usually produce lower values of C-reactive protein than bacterial infections.

Recent research suggests that patients with elevated levels of C-reactive protein have a greater risk of having diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular illnesses. The role of inflammation in cancer is not well known. Some body organs show a greater risk of cancer when the inflammation is chronic.

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