Since proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCA interact with PR3 on the surface of apoptotic polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and ingestion of apoptotic PMN is known to modulate macrophage inflammatory reactions, we raised the question whether PR3-ANCA-opsonized apoptotic PMN influence the uptake by macrophages and their state of activation. We therefore analysed the effects of PR3-ANCA-opsonized apoptotic PMN on the uptake process by enzymatic assay. We further investigated the production of TNF-alpha, IL-10, IL-12 and the secretion of lipid inflammatory mediators (TxB2, leukotriene B4 (LTB4) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)) by human monocyte-derived macrophages using FACS and ELISA methods. We show that PMN-opsonization by PR3-ANCA substantially enhances phagocytosis by macrophages and thereby triggers the production of TNF-alpha and TxB2. These in vitro findings indicate that PR3-ANCA opsonization of apoptotic PMN might be an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of Wegener's granulomatosis (WG), prompting macrophages to produce proinflammatory mediators. These mediators, mainly TNF-alpha, might prime further PMN leading to perpetuation of the known priming-dependent mechanisms of ANCA action.