Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) induced reward behavior is mediatedviaGi/o dependent phosphorylation of PKA/ERK/CREB pathway

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Although the role of cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) in modulating the mesolimbic reward pathway has been suggested, underlying cellular mechanisms have not been elucidated. Herein, we investigate the involvement of Gi/o dependent protein kinase A (PKA)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)/cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) signaling in CART induced reward behavior. The rat was implanted with a stimulating electrode targeted at the lateral hypothalamus (LH)-medial forebrain bundle (MFB) and conditioned to intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) in an operant chamber. Intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of CART (55-102) dose-dependently lowered ICSS threshold suggesting reward promoting action, however, pretreatment with subeffective doses of Gi/o inhibitor (pertussis toxin, PTX) or PKA inhibitor (Rp-cAMPS) or ERK inhibitor (U0126) via icv route, attenuated CART mediated reward experience. Operant conditioned rats showed increased pCREB levels in the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh), ventral tegmental area (VTA) and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Infusion of CART (icv) in the conditioned rats augmented the population of pCREB positive cells in the AcbSh, VTA and PVN areas, but not in the arcuate nucleus (ARC). Pretreatment with U0126 significantly decreased CART induced pCREB activation in the AcbSh and VTA, but not in PVN and ARC. ICSS or CART induced CREB mRNA expression in Acb and VTA was attenuated by U0126. We suggest that recruitment of Gi/o dependent PKA/ERK/CREB phosphorylation signaling in Acb and VTA might play an important role in CART induced reward behavior.

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