Cocaine-and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptide is a widely distributed neurotransmitter expressed in the central nervous systems. Previously, several reports demonstrated that nucleus accumbal-injected CART peptide positively modulated behavioral sensitization induced by psychostimulants and regulated the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic pathway. It is confirmed that CART peptide exerted inhibitory effect on psychostimulant-enhanced dopamine receptors signaling, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase signaling and crucial transcription factors expression. Besides modulation of dopamine receptors-related pathways, CART peptide also exhibited elaborated interactions with other neurotransmitter receptors, such as glutamate receptors and γ-aminobutyric acid receptors, which further account for attribution of CART peptide to inhibition of psychostimulant-potentiated locomotor activity. Recently, CART peptide has been shown to have anxiolytic functions on the aversive mood and uncontrolled drug-seeking behaviors following drug withdrawal. Moreover, microinjection of CART peptide has been shown to have an antidepressant effect, which suggests its potential utility in the mood regulation and avoidance of depression-like behaviors. In this review, we discuss CART pathways in neural circuits and their interactions with neurotransmitters associated with psychostimulant-induced depression.
- CART peptide