To elucidate the mechanisms involved in beta-amyloid-mediated inflammation in Alzheimer's disease, transgenic Tg2576 mice containing as transgene the Swedish double mutation of human amyloid precursor protein 695, were examined for the expression pattern of various cytokines using double immunocytochemistry and laser scanning microscopy. Tg2576 mice studied at postnatal ages of 13, 16 and 19 months demonstrated an age-related accumulation of both senile and diffuse beta-amyloid plaques in neocortex and hippocampus. Reactive interleukin (IL)-1beta-immunoreactive astrocytes were found in close proximity to both fibrillary and diffuse beta-amyloid deposits detectable at very early stages of plaque development, while activated microglia appeared in and around fibrillary beta-amyloid plaques only. Subpopulations of reactive astrocytes also demonstrated immunolabeling for transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1, TGF-beta3, and IL-10, already detectable in 13-month-old transgenic mouse brain, while a few IL-6-immunoreactive astrocytes were observed only at later stages of plaque development. The early beta-amyloid-mediated upregulation of IL-1beta, TGF-beta, and IL-10 in surrounding reactive astrocytes indicates the induction of both pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. The transgenic approach used in this study may thus provide a useful tool to further disclose the in vivo mechanisms by which pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines interact and/or contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's disease.