Background: Structural abnormalities in prefrontal and cingulate gyrus regions-important in affective processing, impulse control and cognition may contribute to the psychopathology of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Previous MRI studies examining volume have reported that compared with healthy controls, BPD patients have decreases in right anterior cingulate, no differences in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and mixed findings for prefrontal cortex. We extended this investigation by examining gray and white matter volume of frontal and cingulate gyrus Brodmann areas (BAs) in a large group of patients and healthy controls.
Methods: MRI scans were acquired in 50 BPD patients (n = 13 with comorbid diagnosis of BPD and Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) and n = 37 without SPD) and 50 healthy controls, and gray/white matter volume in cingulate gyrus and frontal lobe BAs were assessed. Normal BPD and BPD subgroup comparisons were conducted.
Results: Compared with controls, BPD patients showed reduced gray matter volume in BA 24 and 31 of the cingulate. BPD patients without comorbid SPD had isolated gray matter volume loss in BA 24, but were spared for BA 31 in contrast to BPD patients with SPD. There were no group differences in whole cingulate or frontal lobe volume.
Conclusions: The finding of more pervasive cingulate shrinkage in the patients with BPD and SPD comorbidity resembles recent observations with the same methods in patients with schizophrenia. The pattern of reduced anterior and posterior cingulate gray matter volume in BPD patients, particularly those comorbid for SPD is consistent with the affective and attentional deficits observed in these personality disorders.