Human cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) mRNA is highly expressed in limbic- and sensory-related brain regions

Yasmin L. Hurd, Pernilla Fagergren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) is a novel putative peptide neurotransmitter. We studied the expression of CART mRNA throughout the human post-mortem brain by using in situ hybridization histochemistry. The cortical expression was distinct with high mRNA expression levels in the piriform cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, lateral orbital prefrontal cortex, medial orbitofrontal cortex, and middle temporal cortex, but extremely low levels in immediately adjacent cortical areas, e.g., the medial prefrontal cortex, subcallosal gyrus, and superior temporal cortex. Within the striatum, CART mRNA was only detected in the nucleus accumbens, primarily in the most medial area. No positive CART mRNA-expressing neurons were found in the dorsal caudate nucleus and putamen. High mRNA expression levels were evident within the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis as well as the amygdala (central, cortical, and medial nuclei). In the hippocampus, intense expression was found within the uncal gyrus and moderate to high levels in the CA3 and polymorphic layer of the dentate gyrus. CART mRNA expression was also detected in the locus coeruleus and dorsal raphe, but no positive labeling was apparent in the substantia nigra. Overall, the most abundant CART mRNA expression levels in the human brain were detected within in the hypothalamus (posterior, paraventricular nucleus, premammillary, tuberomamillary, dorsomedial, arcuate) and the thalamus (mediodorsal, pulvinar, anterior, zona incerta, geniculate). Rat brain specimens were also studied and many similarities to the human CART mRNA expression were evident. However, the most marked species difference was the virtual absence of the CART mRNA in the rat thalamus. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-598
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • CART peptide
  • Hypothalamus
  • In situ hybridization
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Rat
  • Thalamus


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