International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 1452–1456. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803035; published online 2 August 2005

Central obesity as a major determinant of increased high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in metabolic syndrome

A-C Santos1, C Lopes1, J T Guimarães2 and H Barros1

  1. 1Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Porto Medical School, Alameda Professor Hernani Monteiro, Porto, Portugal
  2. 2Departments of Biochemistry and Clinical Pathology, University of Porto Medical School and São João Hospital, Porto, Portugal

Correspondence: Dr A-C Santos, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Porto Medical School, Alameda Professor Hernani Monteiro, Porto 4200-319, Portugal. E-mail:

Received 4 August 2004; Revised 21 February 2005; Accepted 26 February 2005; Published online 2 August 2005.





Traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as central obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, all constituents of metabolic syndrome, have been associated with increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). Therefore, this marker of low-grade inflammation may play a major role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. In this study, data from a representative sample of urban adults was used to evaluate the association between CRP and metabolic syndrome, accounting for the type and number of its constituents.



Using random digit dialing, 1022 participants, aged 18–92 y, were selected. All participants completed a structured questionnaire comprising of information on social, demographic, behavioral and clinical aspects. Anthropometrics and blood pressure were recorded and a fasting blood sample collected. Metabolic syndrome was defined, according to the Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults, as the presence of three or more of the following characteristics: waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women; triglyceride levels greater than or equal to150 mg/dl; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels <40 mg/dl in men and <50 mg/dl in women; blood pressure greater than or equal to130/85 mm Hg; and serum glucose greater than or equal to110 mg/dl. High-sensitivity CRP was assessed by immunonephelometric assay. After excluding 65 participants with CRP greater than or equal to10 mg/l, 957 subjects (599 women and 358 men) remained for analysis. Geometric means were compared after adjustment for age, sex, alcohol consumption and smoking.



Higher mean levels of CRP (2.34 vs 1.36, P<0.001) were observed when metabolic syndrome was present. Also, mean CRP levels were significantly higher in the presence of central obesity (2.45 vs 1.24, P<0.001), high blood pressure (1.76 vs 1.12, P<0.001), hypertriglyceridemia (2.17 vs 1.32, P<0.001) and high fasting glucose (1.96 vs 1.46, P=0.032). We found a significant increasing trend (P<0.001) in mean levels of CRP as the number of features of metabolic syndrome increased. The major contributing features for high CRP levels were central obesity and high blood pressure.



Present data show that increasing severity of metabolic syndrome is associated with increasing CRP. Additionally, we found that central obesity and high blood pressure are the most important determinants of the low-grade chronic inflammation present in metabolic syndrome.


inflammation, C-reactive protein, metabolic syndrome, blood pressure



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