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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Marion C. Cohen, PhD (SUNY Downstate Medical Center)
Description: This book describes the basic signaling pathways that are used by cells of the immune system: neutrophils, macrophages, B and T lymphocytes, NK cells, and mast cells, although basophils have not been included. Thus the book focuses on certain signal transduction pathways that are, broadly speaking, those that act on G protein-coupled receptors and those that are receptor tyrosine kinases. The book then goes on to describe the downstream events that follow.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide information on the understanding of basic signal transduction pathways in a manner that is suitable for students of immunology or cell biology as well as for other medical personnel. It does provide the basic information that a neophyte might need. Perhaps more importantly it provides easily accessible information for clinicians who may not be up to date on the subject. It is certainly a convenient source of information all in one place, but it should be noted that there are many reviews in various journals that deal with one or more of the pathways described in this book.
Audience: The target audience is students, particularly those interested in immune mechanisms. Another group that may find it useful includes physicians who have not kept up with the signal transduction pathway literature and need updated information. In fact, advanced students might find it insufficient for their purposes. The author is primarily interested in renal disease and, of the various pathways described in the book, he seems to be most focused on the NFkB pathway of cell activation.
Features: The book provides information on cell signaling pathways in general as well as focusing on pathways within individual types of immune cells. Although the primary concentration is on the cells involved in the immune response, the final chapter deals with cancer, including solid tumors. One of the unusual features is the asterisk marking each section that can be postponed for studying until the reader feels comfortable with the very basic concepts. The book uses many tables and figures and, although the figures are black and white, they make their points well. Since it takes time to produce a book, the references are not completely up to date, although there are a few as recent as 2008.
Assessment: This would be a handy reference for students who are beginning studies on signaling pathways. It would certainly be useful for clinicians who have not kept up to date on these pathways and do not have the time to search for review articles. But for someone who has access to a large medical library at an academic institution and knows how to use databases, the information is accessible in other ways.