Szalai, Alexander J., PhD

ThoseProfessor of Medicine 



Shelby Building, Room 214
1825 University Boulevard

Telephone:(205) 975-6241



(Dean's Honor List), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, 1979
MSc, (ZoologyUniversity of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, 1986
PhD, (Immunoparasitology) University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, 1990,
Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology, The University of Mississippi Medical Center, 1990-1992


Research Description

The overarching goal of my research is to understand the biological role of C-reactive protein (CRP) in maintenance of health and propagation of disease. Diseases of interest include: systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and microbial infection. We use a multi-faceted approach that entails studies of CRP biology in transgenic and knockout mice, bolstered by translational studies with human cells and DNA in vitro aimed at revealing CRP genetic and phenotypic associations with disease. Our latest work is geared towards development of CRP lowering drugs, understanding the role of CRP in cardiometabolic disease, and deciphering the contribution of CRP to cerebral malaria. Ligand-bound CRP activates the complement system and binds to Fcg receptors; therefore we also study these two effector pathways.


Potential projects for trainees

Investigating the role of C-reactive protein in translational studies of :

  • cardiovascular disease
  • ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • diabetes
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • systemic lupus
  • septic arthritis
  • cerebral malaria
  • renal cancer
  • multiple sclerosis



Click here for a complete list of publications. Below are a few selected papers

Szalai AJ, Wu J, Lange EM, McCrory MA, Langefeld CD, Williams A, Zakharkin SO, George V, Allison DB, Cooper GS, Xie F, Fan Z, Edberg JC, Kimberly RP. 2005. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the C-reactive protein (CRP) gene promoter that affect transcription factor binding, alter transcriptional activity, and associate with differences in baseline serum CRP level. Journal of Molecular Medicine, 83:440-447 (issue highlight and COVER) PMID: 15778807


Szalai AJ, GS Alarcon, J Calvo-Alen, SMA Toloza, MA McCrory, JC Edberg, G McGwin, Jr., HM Bastian, BJ Fessler, LM Vila, RP Kimberly, and JD Reveille. 2005. Systemic lupus erythematosus in a multiethnic US cohort (LUMINA) XXX: Association between C-reactive protein (CRP) gene polymorphism and vascular events. Rheumatology, 2005; 44:864-868 PMID: 15797975


AJ Szalai, X Hu, C Raman, SR Barnum. 2005. Requirement of the Fc receptor common g-chain for gd T cell-mediated promotion of murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. European Journal of Immunology, 35:3487-3492 PMID: 16278814


Chen K, Li F, Li J, Cai H, Strom S, Bisello A, Kelley DE, Friedman-Einat M, Skibinski GA, McCrory MA, Szalai AJ, Zhao AZ. 2006. Induction of leptin resistance through direct interaction of C-reactive protein with leptin. Nature Medicine, 12:425-432. PMID: 16582918


Szalai AJ, X Hu, JE Adams, SR Barnum. 2007. Complement in experimental autoimmune encephalo-myelitis revisited: C3 is required for development of maximal disease. Molecular Immunology, 44:3132-3136. PMID: 17353050


Xing D, Hage FG, Chen YF, McCrory MA, Feng W, Skibinski GA, Majid-Hassan E, Oparill S, AJ Szalai. 2008. Exxagerated neointima formation in human C-reactive protein transgenic mice is immunoglobulin Fcg receptor I (FcgRI) dependent. The American Journal of Pathology. 172:22-30 (issue highlight and COVER) PMID: 18063701


Smith SS, Ludwig M, Wohler JE, Bullard DC, Szalai AJ, Barnum SR. 2008. Deletion of both ICAM-1 and C3 enhances severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis compared to C3-deficient mice. Neurosci Lett. 442:158-60. PMID: 18634851


R Zhang, YY Zhang, XR Huang, Y Wu , AC Chung, EX Wu, AJ Szalai, BC Wong, CP Lau, HY Lan. 2010. C- reactive protein Promotes Cardiac Fibrosis and Inflammation in Angiotensin II-Induced Hypertensive Cardiac Disease.  Hypertension. 55:953-60 PMID: 20157054


Fadi G. Hage, Suzanne Oparil, Dongqi Xing, Yiu-Fai Chen, Mark A. McCrory, and Alexander J. Szalai. 2010. C-Reactive Protein Mediated Vascular Injury Requires Complement. Arterios Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 30: 1189-1195. PMID: 20339115


Li J, Wang JP, Ghiran I, Cerny A, Szalai AJ, Briles DE, Finberg RW.2010. Complement receptor 1 expression on mouse erythrocytes mediates clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae by immune adherence.Infect Immun. 78(7):3129-35PMID: 20439480


&Hu XZ, Wright TT, Jones NR, Ramos TN, Skibinski GA, McCrory MA, Barnum SR, Szalai AJ. 2011. Inhibition of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis in Human C-Reactive Protein Transgenic Mice Is FcγRIIB Dependent. Autoimmune Dis. 2011:484936. PMID: 21151582


Li Z, Chung AC, Zhou L, Huang XR, Liu F, Fu P, Fan JM, Szalai AJ, Lan HY. 2011. C-reactive protein promotes acute renal inflammation and fibrosis in unilateral ureteral obstructive nephropathy in mice. Lab Invest. 91(6):837-51. PMID: 21383672


Jones NR, Pegues MA, McCrory MA, Kerr SW, Jiang H, Sellati R, Berger V, Villalona J, Parikh R, McFarland M, Pantages L, Madwed JB, Szalai AJ. 2011. Collagen-induced arthritis is exacerbated in C-reactive protein deficient mice. Arthritis Rheum. 63(9):2641-50. PMID: 21567377


Jones NR, MA Pegues, MA McCrory, W Singleton, C Bethune, BF Baker, DA Norris, RM Crooke, MJ Graham and AJ Szalai. 2012. A Selective Inhibitor of Human C-reactive Protein Translation Is Efficacious In Vitro and in C-reactive Protein Transgenic Mice and Humans Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids1, e52; doi:10.1038/mtna.2012.44


Zhou J, Ouyang X, Schoeb TR, Bolisetty S, Cui X, Mrug S, Yoder BK, Johnson MR, Szalai AJ, Mrug M. 2012. Kidney injury accelerates cystogenesis via pathways modulated by heme oxygenase and complement. J Am Soc Nephrol. 23(7):1161-71. PMID:22518005


Ashraf AP, Fisher G, Alvarez J, Dudenbostel T, Calhoun DA, Szalai AJ, Gower BA. 2012. Associations of C-Reactive Protein to Indices of Vascular Health and the Influence of Serum 25(OH)D Status in Healthy Adults. J Nutr Metab. 2012:475975. PMID:23029606


Mukerji R, Mirza S, Roche AM, Widener RW, Croney CM, Rhee DK, Weiser JN, Szalai AJ, Briles DE. 2012. Pneumococcal surface protein A inhibits complement deposition on the pneumococcal surface by competing with the binding of C-reactive protein to cell-surface phosphocholine. J Immunol. 189(11):5327-35. PMID:23105137


Pegues MA, McCrory MA, Zarjou A, Szalai AJ. 2013. C-reactive protein exacerbates renal ischemia-reperfusion injury. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 304(11):F1358-65. PMID:23535585


Zhou Y, Wu J, Kucik DF, White NB, Redden DT, Szalai AJ, Bullard DC, Edberg JC. 2013. Multiple Lupus-Associated ITGAM Variants Alter Mac-1 Functions on Neutrophils. Arthritis Rheum. 65(11):2907-16. PMID:23918739


Tang Y, Huang XR, Lv J, Chung AC, Zhang Y, Chen JZ, Szalai AJ, Xu A, Lan HY. 2013. C-reactive protein promotes acute kidney injury by impairing the G1/S-dependent tubular epithelial cell regeneration. Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Nov 8. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24206243


Szalai AJ, McCrory MA, Xing D, Hage FG, Miller A, Oparil S, Chen YF, Mazzone M, Early R, Henry SP, Zanardi TA, Graham MJ, Crooke RM. 2014. Inhibiting C-reactive protein for the treatment of cardiovascular disease: promising evidence from rodent models. Mediators Inflamm. 2014:353614. PMID: 24803739 PMCID: PMC3996300


Owsley C, Huisingh C, Jackson GR, Curcio CA, Szalai AJ, Dashti N, Clark M, Rookard K, McCrory MA, Wright TT, Callahan MA, Kline LB, Witherspoon CD, McGwin G Jr. 2014. Associations between abnormal rod-mediated dark adaptation and health and functioning in older adults with normal macular health. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 55(8):4776-89. PMID: 24854857 PMCID: PMC4122017


Bowling MR, Xing D, Kapadia A, Chen YF, Szalai AJ, Oparil S, Hage FG. 2014. Estrogen effects on vascular inflammation are age dependent: role of estrogen receptors. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 34(7):1477-85. PMID: 24876352 PMCID: PMC4227403


Torzewski J, Fan J, Schunkert H, Szalai A, Torzewski M. 2014. C-reactive protein and arteriosclerosis. Mediators Inflamm. 2014:646817. PMID: 24976688 PMCID: PMC4058278


Szalai AJ, Barnum SR, Ramos TN. 2014. Deletion of C-reactive protein ameliorates experimental cerebral malaria? Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 108(9):591-3. PMID: 25002461 PMCID: PMC4192040


Zhou Y, Kucik DF, Szalai AJ, Edberg JC. 2014. Human neutrophil flow chamber adhesion assay. J Vis Exp. (89). PMID: 25045887 PMCID: PMC4166108



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