Elevated Monoamine Oxidase-A Distribution Volume in Borderline Personality Disorder Is Associated With Severity Across Mood Symptoms, Suicidality, and Cognition Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Monoamine oxidase-A (MAO-A) is a treatment target in neurodegenerative illness and mood disorders that increases oxidative stress and predisposition toward apoptosis. Increased MAO-A levels in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) occur in rodent models of depressive behavior and human studies of depressed moods. Extreme dysphoria is common in borderline personality disorder (BPD), especially when severe, and the molecular underpinnings of severe BPD are largely unknown. We hypothesized that MAO-A levels in PFC and ACC would be highest in severe BPD and would correlate with symptom magnitude. METHODS: [(11)C] Harmine positron emission tomography measured MAO-A total distribution volume (MAO-A VT), an index of MAO-A density, in severe BPD subjects (n = 14), moderate BPD subjects (n = 14), subjects with a major depressive episode (MDE) only (n = 14), and healthy control subjects (n = 14). All subjects were female. RESULTS: Severe BPD was associated with greater PFC and ACC MAO-A VT compared with moderate BPD, MDE, and healthy control subjects (multivariate analysis of variance group effect: F6,102 = 5.6, p < .001). In BPD, PFC and ACC MAO-A VT were positively correlated with mood symptoms (PFC: r = .52, p = .005; ACC: r = .53, p = .004) and suicidality (PFC: r = .40, p = .037; ACC: r = .38, p = .046), while hippocampus MAO-A VT was negatively correlated with verbal memory (r = -.44, p = .023). CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that elevated MAO-A VT is associated with multiple indicators of BPD severity, including BPD symptomatology, mood symptoms, suicidality, and neurocognitive impairment.


  • Kolla, Nathan J
  • Chiuccariello, Lina
  • Wilson, Alan A
  • Houle, Sylvain
  • Links, Paul
  • Bagby, R Michael
  • McMain, Shelley
  • Kellow, Charis
  • Patel, Jalpa
  • Rekkas, Paraskevi V
  • Pasricha, Suvercha
  • Meyer, Jeffrey H

publication date

  • January 2016

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