C-Reactive Protein Applications In Asthma

Have you ever had blood work done and weren’t exactly sure what the test was for? Often is the case is that you are handed a requisition and sent to the lab with little information provided. In the age of electronic referrals, you might not even receive the requisition for a quick internet search on the way to the lab.

It is always good practice to take a second and ask your doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns. This will also help when you need to follow up on your results.

I recently had my C-reactive protein (CRP) test and I wasn’t exactly sure was the test was for. It turns out that it is a biomarker for inflammation. Considering you can have inflammation in your body in a number of areas, the test is not particularly specific to where the inflammation may be. However, researchers are optimistic about the future of this biomarker in asthma.

C-reactive what?

C-reactive protein is a protein that is produced by the liver and is an acute phase reactant. This means that it will respond by increasing or decreasing in concentration with acute tissue inflammation or trauma.

There are some studies that are looking at the use of serum-C reactive protein as a biomarker, or substance that indicates the presence of a disease, to predict asthma control.1 C-reactive proteins are sensitive to subtle changes, even within the normal ranges, and are an identifier of low-grade systemic inflammation.1

How is this important in asthma?

Inflammation is a key component in asthma and a C-reactive protein test provides an alternate way to measure inflammation. At this stage, research has identified that a decrease in hs-CRP level is connected to inflammation suppression.2 Inflammation suppression is a key component in managing asthma. If new ways of measuring inflammation are identified, especially from something as simple as a blood test.

This may make it easier for both physicians and patients to monitor inflammation. The current limitations include that the location of inflammation is nonspecific. In some findings, elevated C-reactive protein was seen even in patients that had controlled asthma.1 The nuance may not have been figured on how to best use this biomarker to maximize treatment potential.

In COPD, CRP is being used to guide antibiotic treatment in better identifying patients who will benefit from antibiotics during an acute exacerbation of COPD.

My C-reactive protein test

When I receive the results from this test, I was still a little confused about what this all meant. It turns out my levels were slightly elevated, nothing concerning and not surprising given my asthma.

When I spoke with my physician about the use of this test, it was multipurpose to indent rule out any potential linkages to more serious conditions. They mentioned that it all needs to be interpreted together, symptoms, blood work, PFTs and that it is generally not used independently

Have you had your C-reactive protein tested? Was this something that you inquired about? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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