Effects of an experimentally induced inflammatory stimulus on motivational behavior in remitted depressed patients

Robert Suchting, Dana Razouq, Lijin Jose, Flavio Nascimento e Silva, Margaret C. Wardle, Jair C. Soares, Antonio L. Teixeira, Sudhakar Selvaraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Acute inflammation is associated with sickness behavior characterized by reduced motivation for pleasurable activities in humans. The current study investigated the effect of an experimentally induced inflammatory stimulus on motivational reward in people who remitted from depression. Methods: This randomized, double-blind crossover study involved 12 participants, 5 with remitted major depressive disorder (rMDD) and 7 healthy controls (HC), who received an injection of typhoid vaccine and placebo (or vice-versa) intramuscularly at least one week apart. At baseline and between 4 and 6 h post-injection on both days, participant mood was measured using the profile of mood states (POMS), and injection blood samples were collected for cytokines measurement. All participants completed the Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task (EEfRT), a behavioral paradigm measuring effort-based decision-making before and 4 h post-both injections. Generalized linear mixed modeling was used to evaluate group differences in choosing the hard over easy task to obtain a monetary reward. Results: Typhoid vaccine increased IL-6 in all participants. On the EEfRT, a significant interaction between treatment condition (typhoid vs. placebo) and participant group (HC vs. rMDD) was found (p = .004). Analyses of simple effects within treatment conditions found that after placebo, HCs were more likely to choose the harder task than rMDD (OR = 3.21; p = .013). However, after the typhoid vaccine, no differences were found between rMDD and HC (p = .397). Analyses within participant groups found that the probability of choosing a hard task was higher after placebo for HC (OR = 1.37; p = .045), but not different within rMDD (p = .241). For HC at baseline, mood was significantly lower following injection with typhoid vaccine, relative to placebo (b = −1.03, p < .001); however, this effect should be considered coincidental, given that mood rating was taken prior to injection. For rMDD patients 4–6 h post-injection, mood was significantly lower following typhoid vaccine, relative to placebo (b = −0.981, p < .001 b = −0.77, p < .001). Finally, for HC receiving placebo, mood was significantly lower 4–6 h post-injection, relative to baseline (b = −1.76, p < .001). Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest persistent deficits in motivational reward processing function despite clinical improvement in remitted depressed patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-111
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Emotion
  • Inflammation
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Motivation
  • Vulnerability to depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of an experimentally induced inflammatory stimulus on motivational behavior in remitted depressed patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this