Evaluation of CART peptide level in rat plasma and CSF: Possible role as a biomarker in opioid addiction

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It has been shown previously that cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptide has a modulatory role and homeostatic regulatory effect in motivation to and reward of the drugs of abuse specially psychostimulants. Recent data also showed that in addition to psychostimulants, CART is critically involved in the different stages of opioid addiction. Here we have evaluated the fluctuations in the level of CART peptide in plasma and CSF in different phases of opioid addiction to find out whether CART can serve as a suitable marker in opioid addiction studies. Male rats were randomly distributed in groups of control, acute low-dose (10 mg/kg) morphine, acute high-dose morphine (80 mg/kg), chronic escalating doses of morphine, withdrawal syndrome precipitated by administration of naloxone (1 mg/kg), and abstinent after long-term drug-free maintenance of addicted animals. The level of CART peptide in CSF and plasma samples was measured by enzyme immunoassay. CART peptide concentration in the CSF and plasma was significantly elevated in acute high-dose morphine and withdrawal state animals and down-regulated in addicted rats. In abstinent group, CART peptide level was up-regulated in plasma but not in CSF samples. As the observed results are in agreement with data regarding the CART mRNA and protein expression in the brain reward pathway in opioid addiction phases, it may be suggested that evaluation of CART peptide level in CSF or plasma could be a suitable marker which reflects the rises and falls of the peptide concentration in brain in the development of opioid addiction.

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