Common and distinct patterns of grey matter alterations in borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder: voxel-based meta-analysis

Br J Psychiatry. 2019 Jul;215(1):395-403. doi: 10.1192/bjp.2019.44. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Background: Whether borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder are the same or different disorders lacks consistency.AimsTo detect whether grey matter volume (GMV) and grey matter density (GMD) alterations show any similarities or differences between BPD and bipolar disorder.

Method: Web-based publication databases were searched to conduct a meta-analysis of all voxel-based studies that compared BPD or bipolar disorder with healthy controls. We included 13 BPD studies (395 patients with BPD and 415 healthy controls) and 47 bipolar disorder studies (2111 patients with bipolar disorder and 3261 healthy controls). Peak coordinates from clusters with significant group differences were extracted. Effect-size signed differential mapping meta-analysis was performed to analyse peak coordinates of clusters and thresholds (P < 0.005, uncorrected). Conjunction analyses identified regions in which disorders showed common patterns of volumetric alteration. Correlation analyses were also performed.

Results: Patients with BPD showed decreased GMV and GMD in the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex network (mPFC), bilateral amygdala and right parahippocampal gyrus; patients with bipolar disorder showed decreased GMV and GMD in the bilateral medial orbital frontal cortex (mOFC), right insula and right thalamus, and increased GMV and GMD in the right putamen. Multi-modal analysis indicated smaller volumes in both disorders in clusters in the right medial orbital frontal cortex. Decreased bilateral mPFC in BPD was partly mediated by patient age. Increased GMV and GMD of the right putamen was positively correlated with Young Mania Rating Scale scores in bipolar disorder.

Conclusions: Our results show different patterns of GMV and GMD alteration and do not support the hypothesis that bipolar disorder and BPD are on the same affective spectrum.Declaration of interestNone.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; borderline personality disorder; distinct patterns; grey matter; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging
  • Young Adult