- The effect of somatostatin on colonic secretion induced by 10(-8) M vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), 10(-2) M theophylline, and 2 X 10(-3) M dibutyryl cyclic AMP was studied in muscle-stripped everted open rat colon sacs. The secretory response to VIP, measured as the decrease in net absorptive flow rate (microliters 30 min-1 mg-1 of dry weight), was maximal and equalled the responses to theophylline or dibutyryl cyclic AMP. Somatostatin (10(-5) M) blocked completely the secretory response to VIP but only partially the secretory response to theophylline or dibutyryl cyclic AMP. This difference in the extent of inhibition suggested that somatostatin exerted an inhibitory effect both before and after the point of generation of intracellular cyclic AMP. In order to test the hypothesis that one component of the action of somatostatin involved inhibition of the production of cyclic AMP, measurements of this nucleotide were made in isolated rat colon cells. Control levels of cyclic AMP measured by radioimmunoassay (12.6 +/- 1.6 pmoles per 10(6) cells) were not affected by 10(-5) M somatostatin. VIP (5 X 10(-8) M) increased cyclic AMP levels 2-fold (P less than 0.01) and this increase was blocked by somatostatin. The results indicated that somatostatin inhibits colonic secretion by exerting effects at two sites: one site lies at, and another beyond, the point of generation of intracellular cyclic AMP.