Nature and nurture? A review of the literature on childhood maltreatment and genetic factors in the pathogenesis of borderline personality disorder

Wilson, N., Robb, E., Gajwani, R. and Minnis, H. (2021) Nature and nurture? A review of the literature on childhood maltreatment and genetic factors in the pathogenesis of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 137, pp. 131-146. (doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.12.025) (PMID:33677217)

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Background: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality. However, the neurobiological alterations underlying the condition remain poorly understood. As a result, existing treatments remain inadequate. One of the main risk factors for the development of BPD is a history of childhood maltreatment. However, it is considered neither causative nor specific to the condition. Current theory is therefore increasingly moving toward a ‘Gene x Environment’ (GxE) model of the condition. The purpose of the current work was to conduct a systematic literature review, which comprehensively identifies all published molecular level GxE studies that have explored the role of specific genetic loci, in influencing the risk of BPD following exposure to childhood abuse or neglect. Methods: Four electronic databases were used to systematically search for molecular level GxE studies of any design, which focused on the development of BPD following exposure to childhood abuse or neglect, without language or date restrictions. Articles were screened independently by two reviewers and results were synthesised narratively. Results: A total of 473 articles were screened of which sixteen were selected for inclusion in our review. Implicated genes were categorised according to their influence on; Neurotransmitter Systems, Neurodevelopment and Neuroendocrine Systems. Conclusions: The identified studies have produced several relevant and statistically significant results. Of particular note, is the repeated finding that genes involved in HPA axis regulation, may be altered by exposure to childhood maltreatment, influencing subsequent susceptibility to BPD. This is both biologically plausible and of potential clinical significance.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gajwani, Dr Ruchika and Minnis, Professor Helen and Wilson, Dr Naomi
Creator Roles:
Wilson, N.Conceptualization, Methodology, Investigation, Writing – original draft
Gajwani, R.Writing – review and editing, Supervision
Minnis, H.Writing – review and editing, Supervision
Authors: Wilson, N., Robb, E., Gajwani, R., and Minnis, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Psychiatric Research
ISSN (Online):1879-1379
Published Online:11 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Journal of Psychiatric Research 137: 131-146
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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