People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) were found to have an imbalance in gut microbial activity compared with healthy individuals according to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
Multiple studies have found altered gut microbiota in people with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. However, it’s unclear whether psychotropic medication causes altered microbiota or if the imbalance stems from chronic social stress, early life stress, or some other factor.
To expand on gut microbiome research in people with BPD, the researchers recruited 24 women with BPD (22 included) and 21 healthy controls (also women) to explore any differences in beta diversity and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA)-producing bacteria and their relationships with BPD severity, childhood trauma, and chronic stress. The researchers examined BPD symptoms, depressive symptoms, eating disorder symptoms, childhood trauma, and chronic stress. The researchers also collected stool samples, which were frozen within 10 minutes of collection.
Differences in gut microbiota bacterial composition were subtle. The researchers found a larger Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes-ratio (BFR) in the BPD group compared with the control group, particularly after controlling for BMI and depression level.
They also found that 4 bacterial species were significantly less abundant in the BPD group: Pseudoflavonifractor phocaensis (P =.003, r=0.41), Eubacterium
coprostanoligenes (P =.01, r=0.34), Anaerotaenia torta (P =.01, r=0.35), and Parabacteroides chongii (P =.046, r=0.26).
The small, gender-specific sample size limits the applicability of the study to the general population. The researchers also did not account for gastrointestinal problems, fiber intake, and stool moisture.
Additional research in a larger population, and with a repeated-measures design, may help confirm or deny the study results, providing evidence for new therapeutic strategies.
Rössler H, Flasbeck V, Gatermann S, Brüne M. Alterations of the gut microbiota in borderline personality disorder. J Psychosom Res. 2022;158:110942. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2022.110942