Abnormalities in gray matter volume in patients with borderline personality disorder and their relation to lifetime depression: A VBM study

Salvatore Aguilar-Ortiz, Pilar Salgado-Pineda, Josep Marco-Pallarés, Juan C. Pascual, Daniel Vega, Joaquim Soler, Cristina Brunel, Ana Martin-Blanco, Angel Soto, Joan Ribas, Teresa Maristany, Salvador Sarró, Raymond Salvador, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Edith Pomarol-Clotet, Peter J. McKenna

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© 2018 Aguilar-Ortiz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Structural imaging studies of borderline personality disorder (BPD) have found regions of reduced cortical volume, but these have varied considerably across studies. Reduced hippocampus and amygdala volume have also been a regular finding in studies using conventional volumetric measurement. How far comorbid major depression, which is common in BPD and can also affect in brain structure, influences the findings is not clear. Methods Seventy-six women with BPD and 76 matched controls were examined using whole-brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM). The hippocampus and amygdala were also measured, using both conventional volume measurement and VBM within a mask restricted to these two subcortical structures. Lifetime history of major depression was assessed using structured psychiatric interview. Results At a threshold of p = 0.05 corrected, the BPD patients showed clusters of volume reduction in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex bilaterally and in the pregenual/subgenual medial frontal cortex. There was no evidence of volume reductions in the hippocampus or amygdala, either on conventional volumetry or using VBM masked to these regions. Instead there was evidence of right-sided enlargement of these structures. No significant structural differences were found between patients with and without lifetime major depression. Conclusions According to this study, BPD is characterized by a restricted pattern of cortical volume reduction involving the dorsolateral frontal cortex and the medial frontal cortex, both areas of potential relevance for the clinical features of the disorder. Previous findings concerning reduced hippocampus and amygdala volume in the disorder are not supported. Brain structural findings in BPD do not appear to be explainable on the basis of history of associated lifetime major depression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191946
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


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