Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) associated with active Wegener's granulomatosis are directed against a soluble 29-Kd protein present in human neutrophils and monocytes. Affinity labeling with tritiated diisopropylfluorophosphate (3H-DFP) suggested that ANCA- antigen is a serine protease. We used immunoelectron microscopy to study the in situ localization of the ANCA-antigen in normal human neutrophils and monocytes using immunoglobulin G (IgG) from ANCA- positive patients and a mouse monoclonal antibody against the ANCA- antigen. Label was observed on the large granules of the neutrophils and in granules of monocytes. Double-labeling, using anti- myeloperoxidase or the peroxidase reaction as markers for azurophil granules and anti-lactoferrin as marker for specific granules, showed that ANCA is colocalized with markers of azurophil granules but not with lactoferrin. Furthermore, elastase and cathepsin G were found in the azurophil granules of neutrophils and in the peroxidase-positive granules of monocytes, colocalized with ANCA-antigen. Cytochalasin-B- treated neutrophils stimulated with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl- phenylalanine (fMLP) formed large intracellular vacuoles and were partially degranulated. Some vacuoles contained ANCA-antigen, as well as myeloperoxidase, elastase, and cathepsin G, demonstrating release of these enzymes from the azurophil granules into vacuoles. Our results demonstrate that ANCA-antigen is located in myeloperoxidase-containing granules of neutrophils and monocytes, and is packaged in the same granules as elastase and cathepsin G, the two previously identified serine proteases of myeloid leukocytes.

This content is only available as a PDF.