Volume reduction and functional impairment in areas of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) have been found in borderline personality disorder (BPD), particularly in patients with a history of childhood abuse. These abnormalities may contribute to the expression of emotion dysregulation and aggressiveness. In this study we investigated whether the volume of the PFC is reduced in BPD patients and whether a history of childhood abuse would be associated with greater PFC structural changes. Structural MRI data were obtained from 18 BPD patients and 19 healthy individuals matched for age, sex, handedness, and education and were analyzed using voxel based morphometry. The Child Abuse Scale was used to elicit a past history of abuse; aggression was evaluated using the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI). The volume of the right ventrolateral PFC (VLPFC) was significantly reduced in BPD subjects with a history of childhood abuse compared to those without this risk factor. Additionally, right VLPFC gray matter volume significantly correlated with the BDHI total score and with BDHI irritability and negativism subscale scores in patients with a history of childhood abuse. Our results suggest that a history of childhood abuse may lead to increased aggression mediated by an impairment of the right VLPFC
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