Scientific publications

Psychobiology of borderline personality traits related to subtypes of eating disorders: a study of platelet MAO activity

Dec 1, 2011 | Magazine: Psychiatry Research

Díaz-Marsá M (1), Carrasco JL, de Anta L, Molina R, Sáiz J, Cesar J, López-Ibor JJ.


Increased and decreased levers of platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity have been reported in patients with eating disorders, indicating abnormalities of the serotonin turnover.

However, whether these findings are related to eating disorders or are rather reflecting the pathophysiology of borderline personality traits in these patients is still unknown.

Platelet MAO activity and comorbid personality disorders were investigated in 72 patients with different subtypes of eating disorders (ED) and in a group of 28 healthy controls. ED patients comprised the following subtypes: 25 anorexia nervosa (AN) restrictive, 14 AN binge eating-purging (AN b-p), 3 anorexia nervosa not otherwise specified (AN NOS) and 30 bulimia nervosa (BN).

Personality disorders and traits were assessed with the Structured Interview for Personality Disorders (SCID-II), the Zanarini Rating Scale for Borderline Personality Disorder, and the Barrat Impulsiveness Scale. Platelet MAO activity was significantly lower in ED patients with comorbid borderline personality disorder (BPD) than in ED without Borderline personality disorder (BDP).

Platelet MAO activity was significantly and inversely correlated with the number and severity of BPD clinical features. In the subsample of patients with binge eating-purging symptoms (AN b-p, AN NOS and BN), platelet MAO activity was significantly lower in binge-purge patients with comorbid BPD than in binge-purge patients without BPD.

The whole group of eating disorders had a significantly reduced lever of platelet MAO activity compared with the control group. The results suggest that low platelet MAO activity might characterize eating disorders with comorbid borderline personality traits, reflecting greater serotonin dysfunction in these patients.

The role of decreased platelet MAO as an endophenotype with specific clinical manifestations should be explored in future studies.

CITATION  Psychiatry Res. 2011 Dec 30;190(2-3):287-90. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.04.035. Epub 2011 Jun 11.