Anatomical MRI study of borderline personality disorder patients

Psychiatry Res. 2004 Jul 30;131(2):125-33. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2004.04.003.


Hippocampal volume reduction has been reported in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and is hypothesized to be associated with traumatic childhood experiences. We extended this investigation to explore additional brain regions and other potential clinical correlates of structural brain changes in BPD. Ten unmedicated BPD subjects and 20 healthy controls were assessed for current and past Axis I and II comorbidities and histories of childhood abuse. All had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies with a 1.5 T GE Signa Imaging System, performing three-dimensional-gradient echo imaging (SPGR) with the following parameters: TR=25 ms, TE=5 ms, and slice-thickness=1.5 mm. Compared with healthy controls, BPD subjects had significantly smaller right and left hippocampal volumes, most marked in subjects with childhood abuse, and significantly increased right and left putamen volumes, especially in subjects with substance use disorders. No significant differences between groups were found for caudate, amygdala, temporal lobes, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and total brain volumes. This study replicated prior findings of diminished hippocampal volumes in subjects with BPD. Also, increased putamen volumes were found in BPD, a finding that has not been previously reported. Early traumatic experiences may play a role in hippocampal atrophy, whereas substance use disorders may contribute to putamen enlargement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Causality
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Putamen / pathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology