Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) is a selective marker of rat granule cells and of human mossy cells in the hippocampal dentate gyrus

L. Seress, H. Ábrahám, T. Dóczi, G. Lázár, T. Kozicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptide immunocytochemistry was used to reveal cellular localization in the dentate gyrus and in Ammon's horn of the rat and human hippocampal formations. In the rat dentate gyrus, only granule cells were labeled, whereas in humans, only mossy cells of the hilar region expressed CART peptide immunoreactivity. In the rat, CART-positive granule cells were located at the molecular layer border of the granule cell layer and had no features that would distinguish them from other granule cells. The mossy fiber bundle was labeled in the hilus as well as along the entire CA3 area of Ammon's horn. In the human, CART-immunoreactive mossy cells displayed the characteristic thorny excrescences both on their somata and their main dendrites. Axon collaterals of mossy cells could be seen in the hilus and the main axons formed a dense band in the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, suggesting that mossy cells are the principal source of the associational pathway. Granule cells of the dentate gyrus and pyramidal neurons of the human hippocampal formation were devoid of CART peptide immunoreactivity. A few labeled non-pyramidal cells and a large group of strongly immunostained axons of unknown origin were present in all layers of CA1-3. Granule cells are the main excitatory cell population of the dentate gyrus while mossy cells are in a key position in controlling activity of granule cells. The specific location of CART peptide in the dentate granule cells of rodents and in the mossy cells of the human hippocampus may indicate involvement of neuronal circuitry of the dentate gyrus in the memory-related effects of cocaine and amphetamine. Independently of its functional role, CART peptide can be used as a specific marker of human mossy cells and of the dentate associational pathway. The sensitivity of CART peptide to postmortem autolysis may restrict the use of this marker in surgically removed hippocampi or in human brains removed and fixed shortly after death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


  • 3,3′-diaminobenzidine
  • Associational pathway
  • CA1-3
  • CART
  • Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide
  • DAB
  • Limbic system
  • Mossy fibers
  • PB
  • Phosphate buffer
  • Primate
  • Rodent
  • Subregions of Ammon's horn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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