Not All Antidepressants Are Created Equal: Differential Effects of Monoamine Uptake Inhibitors on Effort-Related Choice Behavior

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 Feb;41(3):686-94. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.188. Epub 2015 Jun 24.


Motivated behavior can be characterized by behavioral activation and high work output. Moreover, people with depression and other disorders show effort-related motivational symptoms, such as anergia, psychomotor retardation, and fatigue. Effort-based decision making is studied using tasks offering choices between high effort options leading to highly valued reinforcers vs low effort/low reward options, and such tasks could be useful as animal models of motivational symptoms. In the present studies the effort-related effects of the vesicular monoamine transport (VMAT-2) inhibitor tetrabenazine (TBZ) were investigated. TBZ blocks vesicular storage and also produces depressive symptoms in humans. Moreover, TBZ alters effort-based choice in rats, biasing animals toward low effort alternatives. The present studies investigated the ability of acute administration of various monoamine uptake inhibitors to reverse the effects of TBZ. Effort-related effects of TBZ were attenuated by the catecholamine uptake inhibitor and antidepressant bupropion, and this effect of bupropion was reversed by either D1 or D2 family antagonism. The effort-related effects of TBZ were also attenuated by the selective dopamine uptake blocker GBR12909. The 5-HT uptake inhibitor fluoxetine and the norepinephrine uptake inhibitor desipramine failed to reverse the effects of TBZ, and higher doses of these drugs, given alone or in combination with TBZ, led to further behavioral impairments. These results indicate that drugs acting on dopamine transmission are relatively effective at reversing the effort-related effects of TBZ, and are consistent with the hypothesis that drugs that enhance dopamine transmission may be effective at treating effort-related psychiatric symptoms in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Bupropion / pharmacology
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Motivation / drug effects*
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tetrabenazine / pharmacology*
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Slc18a2 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins
  • Fluoxetine
  • Bupropion
  • ecopipam
  • vanoxerine
  • Haloperidol
  • Desipramine
  • Tetrabenazine