Differential expression of CART in feeding and reward circuits in binge eating rat model (2015)

Behav Brain Res. 2015 Sep 15;291:219-31. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.05.030.

Bharne AP1, Borkar CD1, Subhedar NK2, Kokare DM3.


  • CART expression increases during binge as compare to that in sated condition.
  • Higher dose of CART or rimonabant requires to reduce food intake in binging rat.
  • Binge habit induces neuroplasticity in lateral hypothalamus and hippocampus.
  • Disparate CART pathways mediate satiety and reward information.
  • Rimonabant induces anhedonia and decreases binge eating via CART in AcbSh.


Binge eating (BE) disrupts feeding and subverts reward mechanism. Since cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) mediates satiety as well as reward, its role in BE justifies investigation. To induce BE, rats were provided restricted access to high fat sweet palatable diet (HFSPD) for a period of 4 weeks. Immunoreactivity profile of the CART elements, and accompanying neuroplastic changes were studied in satiety- and reward-regulating brain nuclei. Further, we investigated the effects of CART, CART-antibody or rimonabant on the intake of normal chow or HFSPD.

Rats fed on HFSPD showed development of BE-like phenotype as reflected by significant consumption of HFSPD in short time frame, suggestive of dysregulated satiety mechanisms. At the mid-point during BE, CART-immunoreactivity was significantly increased in hypothalamic arcuate (ARC), lateral (LH), nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) and paraventricular nucleus of thalamus (PVT). However, for next 22-h post-binge time-period, the animals showed no interest in food, and low CART expression.

Pre-binge treatment with rimonabant, a drug recommended for the treatment of BE, produced anorexia, increased CART expression in ARC and LH, but not in AcbSh and PVT. Higher dose of CART was required to produce anorexia in binged rats. While neuronal tracing studies confirmed CART fiber connectivity from ARC and LH to AcbSh, increase in CART and synaptophysin immunostaining in this pathway in BE rats suggested strengthening of the CART connectivity.

We conclude that CART bearing ARC-LH-PVT-AcbSh reward circuit may override the satiety signaling in ARC-PVN pathway in BE rats.

KEYWORDS: Binge eating; Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART); Immunoreactivity; Neuroplasticity; Reward; Satiety

PMID: 26008155

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.05.030