The present study was designed to characterize the urinary bladder-derived relaxant factor that was demonstrated by acetylcholine-induced relaxation response in a coaxial bioassay system consisting of rat bladder as the donor organ and rat anococcygeus muscle as the assay tissue. The concentration-dependent relaxation to acetylcholine (10 nM-1 mM) was inhibited by atropine but was not altered by the antagonists of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP 8-37), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP 6-28), tachykinin NK1 (L-732138), tachykinin NK2 (MEN-10376), tachykinin NK3 (SB-218795), purinergic P2 (PPADS) and adenosine (CGS 15943) receptors as well as alpha-chymotrypsin. Adenylate cyclase inhibitor SQ-22536 and protein kinase A inhibitor KT-5720 significantly inhibited the acetylcholine response while guanylate cyclase inhibitor ODQ and protein kinase C inhibitor H-7 did not have any effect. The P2X agonist alpha,beta-methylene ATP (10 nM-0.1 mM) also produced concentration-dependent relaxation response that was inhibited by PPADS, SQ-22536 and KT-5720 in the coaxial bioassay system. In bladder strips, acetylcholine and alpha,beta-methylene ATP elicited concentration-dependent contractions that were not altered in the presence of SQ-22536 and KT-5720. In conclusion, the urinary bladder-derived relaxant factor that was recognized by the coaxial bioassay system is neither a peptide of the bladder neurons nor a purinergic mediator but adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A are involved in its release and/or relaxant effect. Furthermore, activation of purinergic P2X receptors besides the muscarinic receptors leads to the release of this factor. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.