Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Calprotectin: from biomarker to biological function
  1. Almina Jukic1,
  2. Latifa Bakiri2,
  3. Erwin F. Wagner2,3,
  4. Herbert Tilg1,
  5. Timon E. Adolph1
  1. 1 Department of Internal Medicine I, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  2. 2 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  3. 3 Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  1. Correspondence to Professor Timon E. Adolph, Department of Internal Medicine I, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; timon-erik.adolph{at}


The incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) emerged with Westernisation of dietary habits worldwide. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic debilitating conditions that afflict individuals with substantial morbidity and challenge healthcare systems across the globe. Since identification and characterisation of calprotectin (CP) in the 1980s, faecal CP emerged as significantly validated, non-invasive biomarker that allows evaluation of gut inflammation. Faecal CP discriminates between inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases of the gut and portraits the disease course of human IBD. Recent studies revealed insights into biological functions of the CP subunits S100A8 and S100A9 during orchestration of an inflammatory response at mucosal surfaces across organ systems. In this review, we summarise longitudinal evidence for the evolution of CP from biomarker to rheostat of mucosal inflammation and suggest an algorithm for the interpretation of faecal CP in daily clinical practice. We propose that mechanistic insights into the biological function of CP in the gut and beyond may facilitate interpretation of current assays and guide patient-tailored medical therapy in IBD, a concept warranting controlled clinical trials.

  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • inflammation
  • immunology
  • immune response
  • stool markers

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors All authors contributed equally.

  • Funding We are grateful for the support received from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF P33070) (to T.E.A.). We thank the Excellence Initiative (Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies—COMET) of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG: Research Center of Excellence in Vascular Ageing Tyrol, VASCage (K-Project Nr. 843536) funded by BMVIT, BMWFW, Wirtschaftsagentur Wien and Standortagentur Tirol for their financial support (to H.T.).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.