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The Amnesic Syndrome of Primary Whipple Disease of the Brain

Panegyres, Peter K. PhD, FRACP* †; Foster, Jonathan K. DPhil*; Fallon, Michael MBBS; Connor, Carmela DPsych*

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: March 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 49-51
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e3181bf2d39
Case Reports

Objective To describe a case of primary Whipple disease (WD) of the brain, which may manifest as an amnesic syndrome.

Materials and Methods A 46-year-old woman developed primary WD of the brain. The onset was characterized by a short-term amnesic syndrome for several months before the onset of generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Her amnesia was stable throughout her illness.

Results Our patient had impairment of verbal and visual memory tasks with reduced learning. Her amnesic syndrome was secondary to asymmetric bilateral hippocampal atrophy with gliosis involving the mesial temporal structures—all secondary to primary WD of the brain.

Conclusions WD may present as an amnesic syndrome and needs to be thought of as a treatable cause of cognitive dysfunction in young adults.

*Department of Health, Neurosciences Unit, Mount Claremont

Neurodegenerative Disorders Research

Perth Radiological Clinic, Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia

Reprints: Peter K. Panegyres, PhD, FRACP, Neurodegenerative Disorders Research, 185 York Street, Subiaco, Western Australia 6008, Australia (e-mail:

Received for publication May 22, 2009

accepted August 30, 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.