Frontolimbic structural changes in borderline personality disorder

Michael J. Minzenberg, Jin Fan, Antonia S. New, Cheuk Y. Tang, Larry J. Siever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Objective: Frontolimbic dysfunction is observed in borderline personality disorder (BPD), with responses to emotional stimuli that are exaggerated in the amygdala and impaired in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This pattern of altered function is consistent with animal models of stress responses and depression, where hypertrophic changes in the amygdala and atrophic changes in the ACC are observed. We tested the hypothesis that BPD patients exhibit gross structural changes that parallel the respective increases in amygdala activation and impairment of rostral/subgenual ACC activation. Methods: Twelve unmedicated outpatients with BPD by DSM-IV and 12 normal control (NC) subjects underwent a high-resolution T1-weighted structural MRI scan. Relative gray matter concentration (GMC) in spatially-normalized images was evaluated by standard voxel-based morphometry, with voxel-wise subject group comparisons by t test constrained to amygdala and rostral/subgenual ACC. Results: The BPD group was significantly higher than NC in GMC in the amygdala. In contrast, the BPD group showed significantly lower GMC than the NC group in left rostral/subgenual ACC. Conclusions: This sample of BPD patients exhibits gross structural changes in gray matter in cortical and subcortical limbic regions that parallel the regional distribution of altered functional activation to emotional stimuli among these same subjects. While the histological basis for GMC changes in adult clinical populations is poorly-known at present, the observed pattern is consistent with the direction of change, in animal models of anxiety and depression, of neuronal number and/or morphological complexity in both the amygdala (where it is increased) and ACC (where it is decreased).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume42
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

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Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Frontolimbic
  • Gray matter
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Minzenberg, M. J., Fan, J., New, A. S., Tang, C. Y., & Siever, L. J. (2008). Frontolimbic structural changes in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 42(9), 727-733. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.07.015