Meta-Analysis of white matter diffusion tensor imaging alterations in borderline personality disorder

Isaac Kelleher-Unger, Zuzanna Tajchman, Gabriella Chittano, Iris Vilares

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Borderline personality disorder (BorPD) is characterized by instability and mood dysregulation, unstable relationships and distorted self-image. Identification of underlying anatomical and physiological changes is crucial to refine current treatments and develop new ones. In this perspective, previous magnetic resonance imaging studies have highlighted alterations associated with BorPD phenotype. In particular, diffusion-weighted imaging/Diffusion tensor imaging (DWI/DTI) has identified many white matter structural alterations in individuals with this diagnosis. Although in its infancy, limiting this line of investigation is a lack of direction at the field level. Hence, the present paper aims to conduct a meta-analysis of DWI/DTI findings in individuals with a diagnosis of BorPD, testing the hypothesis that there are specific white matter alterations associated with BorPD. To this end, we performed a meta-analysis of the existing literature of DWI/DTI in BorPD representing a total of 123 individuals with BorPD and 117 Controls. Our results indicated that individuals with BorPD show regions of reduced fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum and fornix. These results survived all jack-knife reshuffles and showed no publication bias. This suggests that alterations in these structures may contribute to psychopathology. Further, the present results lend support to extant psychological and biological models of BorPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111205
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Iris Vilares was initially funded by a Wellcome Trust Principle Investigator awarded to P. Read Montague (WT091188). The funders had no involvement in study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the reports or decision to submit the manuscript.


  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Diffusion weighted imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Personality disorders
  • meta-analysis
  • white matter

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