Improving treatment outcomes for borderline personality disorder: What can we learn from biomarker studies of psychotherapy?

Publication Name

Current Opinion in Psychiatry


Purpose of reviewBorderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe and common psychiatric disorder and though evidence-based psychotherapies are effective, rates of treatment nonresponse are as high as 50%. Treatment studies may benefit from interdisciplinary approaches from neuroscience and genetics research that could generate novel insights into treatment mechanisms and tailoring interventions to the individual.Recent findingsWe provide a timely update to the small but growing body of literature investigating neurobiological and epigenetic changes and using biomarkers to predict outcomes from evidence-based psychotherapies for BPD. Using a rapid review methodology, we identified eight new studies, updating our earlier 2018 systematic review. Across all studies, neuroimaging (n = 18) and genetics studies (n = 4) provide data from 735 participants diagnosed with BPD (mean sample size across studies = 33.4, range 2-115).SummaryWe report further evidence for psychotherapy-related alterations of neural activation and connectivity in regions and networks relating to executive control, emotion regulation, and self/interpersonal functioning in BPD. Emerging evidence also shows epigenetic changes following treatment. Future large-scale multisite studies may help to delineate multilevel treatment targets to inform intervention design, selection, and monitoring for the individual patient via integration of knowledge generated through clinical, neuroscience, and genetics research.

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Funding Sponsor

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention



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