Lipopolysaccharide reduces incentive motivation while boosting preference for high reward in mice

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Nov;39(12):2884-90. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.141. Epub 2014 Jun 11.


Inflammation has been implicated in the development of various psychiatric disorders, including depression. However, the neurobehavioral mechanism involved in this relationship remains elusive. This gap in knowledge may best be filled by evaluating elementary neurobehavioral units affected by inflammation rather than behavioral changes in conventional animal tests of depression. To this end, the current study used a concurrent choice paradigm to evaluate inflammation-induced motivational changes. Male C57BL/6J mice (n=27) were food restricted to between 85 and 90% of their free-feeding weight and were trained to perform a concurrent choice task where they nose-poked for grain rewards on a fixed ratio (FR) 1 schedule (low effort/low reward) and chocolate-flavored rewards on a FR-10 schedule (high effort/high reward). A counterbalanced-within subjects design was used. A single intraperitoneal injection of 0.33 mg/kg lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was used to induce peripheral inflammation. Twenty-four hours after LPS administration, mice showed a reduction in the total number of nose pokes. A proportionally greater reduction in nose pokes was observed for grain, resulting in an increase in percent chocolate pellets earned. These behavioral changes cannot be explained by reduced appetite as feeding before the test led to a similar increase in percent chocolate pellets earned but without any decrease in responding. These results indicate that inflammation modulates incentive motivation by affecting willingness to exert effort for reward and not by reducing sensitivity to reward.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Food
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / psychology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reward*


  • Lipopolysaccharides