Global autobiographical amnesia is a rare disorder that is characterized by a sudden loss of autobiographical memories covering many years of an individual's life. Generally, routine neuroimaging studies such as CT and MRI yield negative findings in individuals with global autobiographical amnesia. However, in recent case reports, functional analyses such as SPECT and fMRI have revealed changes in activity in various areas of the brain when compared with controls. Studies using iomazenil (IMZ) SPECT with individuals with global autobiographical amnesia have not been reported. We report the case of a 62-year-old Japanese woman with global autobiographical amnesia who had disappeared for ∼4 weeks. [123I]-IMZ SPECT showed reduced IMZ uptake in her left medial temporal lobe and no significant reduction on N-isopropyl-[123I] p-iodoamphetamine (IMP) SPECT in the identical region. Because IMZ binds to the central benzodiazepine receptor, this dissociation between IMZ and IMP SPECT was thought to reflect the breakdown of inhibitory neurotransmission in the left medial temporal lobe. Moreover, when the woman recovered most of her memory 32 months after fugue onset, the IMZ SPECT-positive lesion had decreased in size. Because the woman had long suffered verbal abuse from her former husband's sister and brother, which can also cause global autobiographical amnesia, it is difficult to conclude whether the IMZ SPECT-positive lesion in the left medial temporal lobe was the cause or the result of her global autobiographical amnesia. Although only one case, these observations suggest that IMZ SPECT may be useful in uncovering the mechanisms underlying global autobiographical amnesia.
Yoshihide Sehara, Yoshihito Ando, Takumi Minezumi, Nozomi Funayama, Kensuke Kawai, Mikio Sawada