Injection of Cocaine-Amphetamine Regulated Transcript (CART) peptide into the nucleus accumbens does not inhibit caffeine-induced locomotor activity: Implications for CART peptide mechanism

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Much evidence suggests that intra-nucleus accumbens (NAc) CART peptide (CART 55-102) injection inhibits locomotor activity (LMA) when there is an increase in the release and activity of dopamine (DA) in the NAc. However, this hypothesis has not been fully tested. One way to examine this is to determine if there is a lack of effect of intra-NAc CART peptide on LMA that does not involve increases in DA release in the NAc. Several studies have suggested that caffeine-induced LMA does not involve extracellular DA release in the NAc core. Therefore, in this study, we have examined the effect of injections of CART peptide (2.5 μg) into the NAc core on the locomotor effects of caffeine in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Several LMA relevant doses of caffeine were used (0, 10, 20 mg/kg i.p.), and an inverted U response curve was found as expected. We determined, in the same animals, that intra-NAc CART peptide had no effect on caffeine-induced LMA whereas it blunted cocaine-mediated LMA, as shown by other reports. We also extended a previous observation in mice by showing that at a LMA activating dose of caffeine there is no alteration of CART peptide levels in the NAc of rats. Our study supports the hypothesis that the inhibitory effects of CART peptide in the NAc may be exerted only under conditions of increased extracellular DA release and activity in this region. Our results also suggest that intra-NAc CART 55-102 does not generally inhibit increases in LMA due to all drugs, but has a more specific inhibitory effect on dopaminergic neurotransmission.

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