Inflammatory mechanisms are thought to contribute to lesion pathogenesis and neuronal cell death in Alzheimer's disease. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) plays a central role in the response of the brain to injury, and is increased in the brain in Alzheimer's disease. In this study we determine whether expression of TGF-beta is abnormal in the microvasculature in Alzheimer's disease and whether TGF-beta affects vascular production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin (IL)-1 beta, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Microvessels isolated from the cortices of Alzheimer's disease patients and age-matched controls are analyzed for microvessel-associated and released TGF-beta. Results from Western blot analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay indicate a higher level of TGF-beta in Alzheimer's disease vessels compared to controls. To determine whether TGF-beta affects vascular release of inflammatory factors, cultured brain endothelial cells are treated with TGF-beta and levels of IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha determined. Both enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot analyses show that untreated endothelial cells express little IL-1 beta or TNF-alpha, but incubation with TGF-beta results in robust expression of these factors by brain endothelial cells. Our results suggest that vessel-derived TGF-beta contributes to inflammatory processes in the Alzheimer brain.