The association between high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and metabolic risk factors in black and white South African women: a cross-sectional study

Journal Article


Journal Title

BMC Obesity

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Background High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) is associated with metabolic risk, however it is unclear whether the relationship is confounded by racial/ethnic differences in socioeconomic status (SES), lifestyle factors or central adiposity. The aims of the study was, (1) to investigate whether hsCRP levels differ by race/ethnicity; (2) to examine the race/ethnic-specific associations between hsCRP, HOMA-IR and serum lipids [total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoproteins (HDL-C) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL-C)]; and (3) to determine whether race/ethnic-specific associations are explained by SES, lifestyle factors or waist circumference (WC). Methods The convenience sample comprised 195 black and 153 white apparently health women, aged 18–45 years. SES (education, assets and housing density) and lifestyle factors (alcohol use, physical activity and contraceptive use) were collected by questionnaire. Weight, height and WC were measured, and fasting blood samples collected for hsCRP, glucose, insulin, and lipids. Results Black women had higher age- and BMI-adjusted hsCRP levels than white women (p = 0.047). hsCRP was associated with HOMA-IR (p < 0.001), TG (p < 0.001), TC (p < 0.05), HDL-C (p < 0.05), and LDL-C (p < 0.05), independent of age and race/ethnicity. The association between hsCRP and lipids differed by race/ethnicity, such that hsCRP was positively associated with TG and LDL-C in white women, and inversely associated with HDL-C in black women. Higher hsCRP was also associated with higher TC in white women and lower TC in black women. Furthermore, when adjusting for SES and lifestyle factors, the associations between hsCRP, and TC and TG, remained, however the associations between hsCRP, and HDL-C and LDL-C, were no longer significant. Conclusion Although circulating hsCRP may identify individuals at increased metabolic risk, the heterogeneity in these associations between racial/ethnic groups highlights the need for prospective studies investigating the role of hsCRP for risk prediction in different populations.