BPD Linked to Human Chromosome 9

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December 29th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Click here for more coverage of Borderline Personality Disorder.)

Child abuse is known to be a common factor in development of personality disorders. Many, perhaps most, of those who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) were abused extensively as children. Consequently, it is commonly believed that long duration and/or severe child abuse is a major factor in development of personality disorders related to BPD, particularly the DSM-IV Axis 2 Cluster B personality disorders which are Borderline, Antisocial, Narcissistic, and Histrionic. Yet one of the mysteries of BPD has been that some who develop it were not abused or traumatized during childhood. Further, not all severely abused children develop personality disorders. So it has been suspected for years that there may be a genetic basis for these mental illnesses.

Mental health statistics indicate that having a first-degree relative (parent, child, or sibling) with BPD results in about a 10 times higher likelihood of being treated for the same illness (in this case BPD) than if that relative had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.  This also suggests that that genetic traits or environmentally common experiences shared by first-degree relatives are involved in developing BPD.

Further, research has found that it is common for Borderline parents to pass along BPD to their children.  This is particularly the case with Borderline mothers and their daughters.  Sometimes the children of Borderlines develop other similarly destructive mental illnesses rather than BPD itself.  This has also suggested there is a genetic basis for BPD.

In December 2008, a genetic linkage study by Missouri University researcher Dr. Timothy Trull and Dutch research collaborators was published in Psychiatric Genetics.  This is believed to be the first such genetic linkage study involving Borderline Personality Disorder.  By using the Netherlands Twin Registry database, it found that there is evidence of BPD genes on chromosomes 1, 4, 9, and 18.  The strongest linkage was for chromosome 9.  Further research is needed to identify the genes responsible.

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