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Cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) in a cohort of suicide attempters

Brundin L, Björkqvist M, Träskman-Bendz L and Petersén Å.

Psychiatry Research 158(2): 117-122 (2008)


Cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) is a neuropeptide expressed in brain regions thought to regulate anxiety levels, depression, addiction and energy homeostasis. Individuals with a CART mutation display increased anxiety and depression. Severe anxiety is a core phenomenon of suicidality. We therefore studied levels of CART in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 98 patients with different psychiatric diagnoses, shortly after a suicide attempt. We also investigated the relationship between CSF-CART and relevant psychiatric symptoms. CART levels were determined using a radioimmunoassay and the psychiatric symptoms rated in structured interviews using the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale (CPRS) and the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP). No differences in CSF-CART were found between the diagnostic groups or controls. However, lower CART levels were associated with a higher degree of concentration difficulties. No significant association was found between CART levels and other psychiatric symptoms. CSF-CART correlated significantly with CSF-levels of orexin, but not with corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF). Further studies on the role of CART in psychiatric diseases where concentration difficulties are prominent, such as attention deficit disorder, are warranted.