OBJECTIVESDetrusor smooth muscle relaxation is mainly mediated by the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) pathway. Elevation of cAMP levels by phosphodiesterase type 4 (PDE4) inhibition relaxes smooth muscles of various origins. We aimed to determine the effect of a PDE4 inhibitor, rolipram, on human detrusor contractions.METHODSHuman bladder strips (from 20 different donors) with no known overactive bladder (OAB) were studied in organ baths. Detrusor samples with or without urothelium were incubated with carbachol 10(-6)mol/l (in presence or absence of forskolin, 3.10(-7)mol/l) or with KCl 10mmol/l to enhance phasic contractile activity. Concentration response curves for rolipram or vehicle were then performed.RESULTSRolipram (10(-9) to 3.10(-5)mol/l) induced a moderate relaxing effect on carbachol-induced contractions. This effect was enhanced when cAMP levels were increased by forskolin (the maximal effect was 53.0+/-5.1 vs. 83.1+/-5.7%, p<0.01) or in strips with urothelium. In contrast, rolipram (10(-9) to 10(-4)mol/l) drastically inhibited phasic contractile activity: The developed tension, the area under the curve, and the amplitude of phasic activity were reduced to 64.8+/-3.6, 91.2+/-5.3, and 82.3+/-7.3%, respectively, versus 23.6+/-9.5, 34.7+/-18.8, and 18.0+/-16.2% for vehicle, respectively (p<0.05). Frequency of phasic activity was 0.96+/-0.45 contractions per minute versus 2.6+/-0.18 for vehicle (p<0.001). In strips with urothelium, the inhibitory effect of rolipram on phasic contractile activity was similar.CONCLUSIONSPDE4 isoenzymes are strongly involved in the regulation of phasic myogenic activity of human bladder strips. Because an increase of this phasic activity may play a role in the pathophysiology of detrusor overactivity, PDE4 inhibitors might represent an attractive strategy for the treatment of OAB.