The role of peptides in mediating the nonadrenergic, noncholinergic (NANC) response of the rat urinary bladder was studied. Electrical stimulation of muscle strips from 3-month-old female Wistar rat urinary bladders in the presence of autonomic blockers (atropine 10-6 mol/l, propanolol 10-6 mol/l, phentolamine 10-6 mol/l, and guanethidine 10-6 mol/l) showed NANC contraction accounting for 60% of the maximum contractile responses at 40 Hz. Frequency-response studies showed that in the presence of alpha-chymotrypsin (2 U/ml, 30-min incubation), the NANC contractile responses to electrical stimulation at lower frequencies (3-10 Hz) were enhanced (p < 0.05; n = 9). However, no significant differences were observed at higher frequencies (20-40 Hz). With repetitive 4-Hz stimulation, alpha chymotrypsin caused a 19% increase in the NANC contractile response (p < 0.05; n = 8). It is postulated that the NANC response of the rat bladder smooth muscle is composed of an excitatory (contractile) and an inhibitory (relaxant) component. Some peptide(s) is/are responsible for mediating the inhibitory response.
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