Calprotectin, the major neutrophil protein, is a critical alarmin that modulates inflammation and plays a role in
host immunity by strongly binding trace metals essential for bacterial growth. It has two cysteine residues
favourably positioned to act as a redox switch. Whether their oxidation occurs in vivo and affects the function of calprotectin has received little attention. Here we show that in saliva from healthy adults, and in lavage fluid
from the lungs of patients with respiratory diseases, a substantial proportion of calprotectin was cross-linked via disulfide bonds between the cysteine residues on its S100A8 and S100A9 subunits. Stimulated human neutrophils released calprotectin and subsequently cross-linked it by myeloperoxidase-dependent production of hypochlorous acid. The myeloperoxidase-derived oxidants hypochlorous acid, taurine chloramine, hypobromous acid, and hypothiocyanous acid, all at 10 μM, cross-linked calprotectin (5 μM) via reversible disulfide bonds. Hypochlorous acid generated A9-A9 and A8-A9 cross links. Hydrogen peroxide (10 μM) did not cross-link the protein. Purified neutrophil calprotectin existed as a non-covalent heterodimer of A8/A9 which was converted to a heterotetramer - (A8/A9)2 - with excess calcium ions. Low level oxidation of calprotectin with hypochlorous acid produced substantial proportions of high order oligomers, whether oxidation occurred before or after addition of calcium ions. At high levels of oxidation the heterodimer could not form tetramers with calcium ions, but prior addition of calcium ions afforded some protection for the heterotetramer. Oxidation and formation of the A8-A9 disulfide cross link enhanced calprotectin's susceptibility to proteolysis by neutrophil proteases. We propose that reversible disulfide cross-linking of calprotectin occurs during inflammation and affects its structure and function. Its increased susceptibility to proteolysis will ultimately result in a loss of function.