5-HT1A receptor gene C −1019 G polymorphism and amygdala volume in borderline personality disorder


*T. Zetzsche, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Nussbaumstrasse 7, D-80336 Munich, Germany. E-mail: thomas.zetzsche@med.uni-muenchen.de


Alterations of amygdala structure and function have been repeatedly described in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The aim of our study was to determine whether a functional polymorphism of the 5-hydroxytryptamine1A receptor (5-HTR1A) gene C −1019 G (identity number: rs6295 G/C) is associated with structural changes of the amygdala in patients with BPD. Twenty-five right-handed female inpatients with BPD according to DSM IV and 25 healthy controls matched for age, sex, handedness and educational status were enrolled. Brain volumetry of the amygdala was performed with a 1.5-T Magnetom Vision apparatus (Siemens, Erlangen, Germany) and analyzed by the software program ‘brains’. Patients who have the 5-HTR1A gene G allele had significantly smaller amygdala volumes than C/C genotype carriers (= 0.02). While no difference of allelic distribution between patients and controls was detected, the described effect of 5-HTR1A genotype on amygdala volume was found for the whole group of patients, as well as in the subgroup of patients with comorbid major depression (= 0.004) but not in controls. In contrast to these subgroups of BPD patients who had significant amygdala volume differences, the mean amygdala volume of the whole group of BPD patients was not significantly different from that of controls. In summary, our study provides first evidence that 5-HTR1A gene C −1019 G polymorphism is associated with structural changes in the limbic system of BPD patients, a finding that might be disease related and might contribute to explanation of previous discrepant results regarding amygdala volume changes in BPD. Future research is recommended to clarify possible interactions between this functional polymorphism and symptoms, course and treatment responses in this disorder.