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mail attribute possibly got corrupted?

I had a completely well functioning ldap directory of virtual users. Postfix was querying it for local recipients and Courier IMAP was querying it for mailboxes successfully.
I was making a few modifications to enable users to change their ldap passwords from horde and all of a sudden both postfix and Courier IMAP were returning no valid users from the ldap directory.
I tracked the problem down to the mail attribute which was being queried. I ran the following query and got no results when I should I received one.
# ldapsearch -h 'mail=<email address>'
I then tried the below and got the expected result of the 1 record (* at the end of the email address)
# ldapsearch -h 'mail=<email address>*'
I then updated the email address in the ldap directory by adding a space at the end and then the first query worked fine. It continued to work fine when I went back and deleted that space. I did similar modifications for other records like delete a letter and go back and put it back and the first query returned expected results. Postfix started working fine as well.
The problem got fixed...but I'd like to know is it possible that the mail attribute got corrupted across all records and if so how might it have happened.