Increased cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript cord blood levels in the newborns exposed to crack cocaine in utero
Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptides (CART 55-102 and CART 62-102) are peptidergic neurotransmitters that are widely but specifically distributed throughout the brain, gut and other parts of the body. They are found in many brain regions associated with drug addiction including the nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area and ventral pallidum. Injections of CART 55-102 into the nucleus accumbens have no effect on basal locomotor activity. However, an injection of CART just before an i.p. injection of cocaine reduces the locomotor activating effects of cocaine. These and other data suggest that CART in the accumbens blunts the effects of cocaine. A hypothesis is that CART is homeostatic in the accumbens and tends to oppose large increases in dopamine signaling. These actions would therefore be able to regulate the effects of some abused drugs such as the psychostimulants.