River longitudinal profile, a key morphological characteristic of the river channel, is subject to river mouth progradation. Given the increasing influence of human activities and climate change on this critical downstream control, understanding its effects on the evolution of the longitudinal profile is imperative. A general theoretical framework is proposed to quantify the relevant effects, which is tested by numerical experiment and compared with field, numerical and laboratory data from the literature. The results suggest the existence of a critical ratio of accommodation space to sediment supply of approximately 0.5, above which the typical concave upward profile tends to form. Further analyses show that sea level rise tends to increase the concavity of the longitudinal profile of a river with a relatively low equilibrium bed slope and progradation rate.