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The neurobiology of social deficits in female patients with borderline personality disorder: The importance of oxytocin

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  • Anne Cathrine Bomann
  • Martin Balslev Jørgensen
  • Sune Bo
  • Marianne Nielsen
  • Lene Bjerring Gede
  • Betina Elfving
  • Erik Simonsen
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BACKGROUND: Social deficits and emotional dysregulation have been suggested as explanations for the relational difficulties experienced by patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) is a possible neurobiological underpinning of these adversities, and this study examines possible correlations between BPD symptomatology and serum OXT.

METHODS: Thirty-eight female participants (BPD group n = 18, matched control group n = 20) with a mean age of 29.5 years (standard deviation 9.2) were assessed for personality disorders, general psychopathology, childhood trauma and perceived stress. OXT was measured in serum samples.

RESULTS: We found no significant difference between patient and control group in terms of OXT levels. However, post hoc analysis showed a relationship in the patient group between civil status and OXT (p < 0.05), indicating higher levels of OXT for patients in a romantic relationship.

DISCUSSION: The idea of OXT as a pro-social love hormone is perhaps too simplistic, and factors like attachment style, exposure to trauma and psychiatric disorders must be considered in order to understand its diverse functions.

CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to our expectations, we did not find lower serum OXT levels in the BPD group. However, BPD patients in a romantic relationship had higher levels of serum OXT than single BPD patients. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Mental Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 51719307