The EF-hand homolog family of S100 proteins comprises the largest group of calcium-binding proteins. Within this S100 family, the phagocyte-specific calcium-binding proteins are pro-inflammatory molecules expressed and secreted by phagocytes, which play a pivotal role within the innate immune system. Although the exact biological functions of these proteins still remain to be defined in greater detail, there is evidence that they are involved in a pro-inflammatory axis associated with various inflammatory conditions. The three members of this group, S100A8, S100A9 and S100A12 are overexpressed at local sites of inflammation. High concentrations are found in synovial fluid, sputum, stool and blood plasma/serum during inflammation. Both the S100A8/S100A9 complex and S100A12 have been proven to be useful as diagnostic markers of inflammation especially in non-infectious inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, chronic inflammatory lung and bowel disease. They indicate phagocyte activation more sensitively than conventional parameters of inflammation. As a consequence, there is a strong correlation to the inflammation of various acute and chronic disorders, making these proteins sensitive parameters for the monitoring of disease activity and response to treatment in individual patients. The phagocyte-specific S100 proteins are able to indicate minimal residual inflammation, which is not detected by other diagnostic tests, and they may even be prospective markers for the outcome of patients. In this review, pro-inflammatory functions of S100 proteins and their usefulness as biomarkers of inflammation are presented.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier B.V.