Increased levels of cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript in two animal models of depression and anxiety.
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The neurobiological bases of mood disorders remain elusive but both monoamines and neuropeptides may play important roles. The neuropeptide cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) was shown to induce anxiety-like behavior in rodents, and mutations in the human CART gene are associated with depression and anxiety. We measured CART-like immunoreactivity (-LI) in genetic rat models of depression and anxiety, i.e. the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) and rats selected for High Anxiety-related Behavior (HAB) using a radioimmunoassay. CART-LI was significantly increased in the periaqueductal grey in FSL rats, whereas in the HAB strain it was increased in the hypothalamus, both compared with their respective controls. No line-dependent changes were found in the hippocampus, striatum or frontal cortex. Our results confirm human genetic studies indicating CART as a neurobiological correlate of depression and anxiety, and suggest that its differential regulation in specific brain regions may play a role for the behavioral phenotypes.