Modulatory role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism on the effects of serious life events on impulsive aggression in borderline personality disorder


S. Wagner, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Mainz, Untere Zahlbacher Strasse 8, D-55131 Mainz, Germany.


Impulsive aggression belongs to the key features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). In the development of BPD, serious life events are known to play a major role. Acute and chronic stress has been suggested to inhibit hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) synthesis and to mediate neural plasticity in response to adverse social experiences. Recently it has been reported that the frequency of violent suicide attempts is higher in adult suicide attempters reporting severe childhood sexual abuse and carrying the Val66Val genotype of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism. In this study we analysed modulating effects of BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on the effects of physical maltreatment, rape and childhood sexual abuse on impulsive aggression. One hundred and fifty-nine BPD patients from Germany and of Caucasian descent were included. Impulsive aggression was assessed by the Buss-Durkee-Hostility Inventory (BDHI). Childhood sexual abuse accounted for 23.6% of the variance of BDHI sum score. Childhood sexual abuse decreased BDHI sum score in BDNF Val/Val carriers but not in Met carriers. In contrast to previous findings this study analysing a specific gene × environment interaction in BPD patients suggests a decreasing effect of childhood sexual abuse on impulsive aggression in BPD patients, particularly in BDNF Val/Val carriers. The interrelations between serious life events, impulsive aggression and the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism as well as their implication for BPD are far from understood and require further investigations.