Increased cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript cord blood levels in the newborns exposed to crack cocaine in utero

Rodrigo Ritter Parcianello, Victor Mardini, Keila Maria Mendes Ceresér, Daniel D. Langleben, Fernando Xavier, Maria Lucrécia Scherer Zavaschi, Luis Augusto Paim Rhode, Flávio Pechansky, Carolina Gubert, Claudia Maciel Szobot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) is an endogenous antioxidant present since the embryonic period. CART is activated by high levels of dopamine and might be of interested in understanding the changes in the REDOX system associated with crack/cocaine intake. The goal of this study was to determine whether exposure to crack in utero is associated with increased CART levels. Methods: In this cross-sectional study with consecutive sampling, we compared the umbilical cord blood (UCB) CART levels (μg/mL) of newborns exposed to crack/cocaine in utero (EN, n = 57) to levels in non-exposed newborns (NEN, n = 99). In addition, we compared serum CART levels between EN and NEN mothers, in the immediate postpartum period. Potential confounders, such as perinatal data (e.g., weight, Apgar, etc.), psychopathology (DSM-IV), and use of drugs other than crack (ASSIST) were assessed. Results: According to general linear model analysis, the adjusted mean CART was significantly higher in EN (0.180, 95% CI 0.088–0.272) than in NEN (0.048, 95% CI 0.020–0.076; p < 0.002; d = 0.68). The difference in CART levels between EN and NEN mothers was not significant (p ≥ 0.05). Conclusion: The increase in CART levels in EN UBC suggests a response to crack/cocaine-induced oxidative stress during gestational period, as a potential attempt of neuroprotection. In adult women in puerperium, however, this endogenous antioxidant recruitment does not seem to operate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


  • Cart
  • Crack cocaine
  • Newborn
  • Oxidative stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Umbilical cord blood


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