Altered intrinsic functional network connectivity is associated with impulsivity and emotion dysregulation in drug-naïve young patients with borderline personality disorder

Borderline Personal Disord Emot Dysregul. 2023 Jun 19;10(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s40479-023-00227-y.


Background: Despite impulse control and emotion regulation being altered in borderline personality disorder (BPD), the specific mechanism of these clinical features remains unclear. This study investigated the functional connectivity (FC) abnormalities within- and between- default mode network (DMN), salience network (SN), and central executive network (CEN) in BPD, and examined the association between aberrant FC and clinical features. We aimed to explore whether the abnormal large-scale networks underlie the pathophysiology of impulsivity and emotion dysregulation in BPD.

Methods: Forty-one young, drug-naïve patients with BPD (24.98 ± 3.12 years, 20 males) and 42 healthy controls (HCs; 24.74 ± 1.29 years, 17 males) were included in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging analyses. Independent component analysis was performed to extract subnetworks of the DMN, CEN, and SN. Additionally, partial correlation was performed to explore the association between brain imaging variables and clinical features in BPD.

Results: Compared with HCs, BPD showed significant decreased intra-network FC of right medial prefrontal cortex in the anterior DMN and of right angular gyrus in the right CEN. Intra-network FC of right angular gyrus in the anterior DMN was significantly negatively correlated with attention impulsivity in BPD. The patients also showed decreased inter-network FC between the posterior DMN and left CEN, which was significantly negatively correlated with emotion dysregulation.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that impaired intra-network FC may underlie the neurophysiological mechanism of impulsivity, and abnormal inter-network FC may elucidate the neurophysiological mechanism of emotion dysregulation in BPD.

Keywords: Borderline personality disorder; Central executive network; Default mode network; Emotion dysregulation; Impulsivity; Salience network.