Evaluation of behavioral impulsivity and aggression tasks as endophenotypes for borderline personality disorder

J Psychiatr Res. 2009 Aug;43(12):1036-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 18.


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is marked by aggression and impulsive, often self-destructive behavior. Despite the severe risks associated with BPD, relatively little is known about the disorder's etiology. Identification of genetic correlates (endophenotypes) of BPD would improve the prospects of targeted interventions for more homogeneous subsets of borderline patients characterized by specific genetic vulnerabilities. The current study evaluated behavioral measures of aggression and impulsivity as potential endophenotypes for BPD. Subjects with BPD (N=127), a non cluster B personality disorder (OPD N=122), or healthy volunteers (HV N=112) completed self report and behavioral measures of aggression, motor impulsivity and cognitive impulsivity. Results showed that BPD subjects demonstrated more aggression and motor impulsivity than HV (but not OPD) subjects on behavioral tasks. In contrast, BPD subjects self-reported more impulsivity and aggression than either comparison group. Subsequent analyses showed that among BPD subjects behavioral aggression was associated with self-reported aggression, while behavioral and self-report impulsivity measures were more modestly associated. Overall, the results provide partial support for the use of behavioral measures of aggression and motor impulsivity as endophenotypes for BPD, with stronger support for behavioral aggression measures as an endophenotype for aggression within BPD samples.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / complications
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / genetics
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / psychology
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior* / diagnosis
  • Impulsive Behavior* / etiology
  • Impulsive Behavior* / psychology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult