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Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Jan 15;63(2):152-7. Epub 2007 Jun 13.

Stimuli linked to ethanol availability activate hypothalamic CART and orexin neurons in a reinstatement model of relapse.

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Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Erratum in

  • Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Mar 1;63(5):534.



There has been a recent upsurge of interest in the role of hypothalamic feeding peptides, in particular, orexin (hypocretin), in drug-seeking behavior. However, the potential role of other hypothalamic feeding peptides, such as cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART), in conditioned reinstatement has yet to be explored.


Animals were exposed to environmental stimuli previously associated with ethanol availability (EtOH S+), and sections from the hypothalamus and paraventricular thalamus (PVT), a recipient of CART and orexin innervation, were dual labeled for Fos-protein and either CART or orexin.


Significantly larger numbers of Fos-positive arcuate nucleus CART and hypothalamic orexin neurons were seen in animals exposed to the EtOH S+ compared with nonreward S- animals. Presentation of the EtOH S+ also increased numbers of Fos-positive PVT neurons. Fos-positive PVT neurons were observed to be closely associated with orexin and CART terminal fields.


Taken together, these findings suggest that activation of hypothalamic neuropeptide systems may be a common mechanism underlying drug-seeking behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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