Emotionally controlled decision-making and a gene variant related to serotonin synthesis in women with borderline personality disorder

Scand J Psychol. 2009 Feb;50(1):5-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00689.x. Epub 2008 Sep 23.


The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) was used to examine (i) social decision-making in women with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and (ii) the relationship between impaired decision-making and the tryptophan hydroxylase-1 (TPH-1) gene, involved in serotonin synthesis. Forty-two women with BPD and a history of suicide attempts were genotyped, and the frequency of a TPH-1 haplotype previously uniquely associated with BPD was calculated. The BPD group scored significantly lower than a control group in the IGT. Furthermore, the TPH-1 haplotype displayed a significantly higher frequency in BPD participants with impaired decision making, compared to BPD participants with normal scores. These findings suggest that impaired decision-making as determined by the IGT is a feature of BPD and may be (i) associated with serotonin dysfunction, and (ii) possibly relevant for suicidal behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Serotonin / biosynthesis*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase / genetics*


  • Serotonin
  • TPH1 protein, human
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase