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From The CriticsReviewer: David O. Staats, MD (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Description: This is the fifth edition of a popular multiauthored review of our contemporary understanding of the biological nature of aging.
Purpose: The editors' aim is to provide synposes of current understanding of the nature of aging. They state that in an area with exponential growth of data and ideas, this book provifdes a way to bring a wide audience up-to-date on the current advances in the field. This is true.
Audience: The audience is primarily researchers in aging, graduate students in aging, and practitioners. This book presupposes a fairly broad understanding of molecular biology. All the authors are first-class experts in their fields.
Features: The outstanding aspects of this book are the thorough coverage of the topics and the organization of the book, which gives a comprehensive look at the molecular biology of aging. After a broad opening chapter on theories of aging, there then follow chapters on oxidation, protein turnover, DNA repair, mitochondrial factors, gene expression, mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways, cell proliferation, apoptosis, effect of the neuroendocrine and immune systems, models to retard aging and a concluding chapter from a leading geriatrician. All of this is presented in several hundred pages total, so the information is digestible. The bibliographic citations are all pertinent.
Assessment: This wonderful book remains a leading standard in the field. Unlike the fourth and previous editions, the charming chapter on understanding studies of human aging is left out. If this book is about the molecular biology of aging, why leave out the trees and the invertebrates? On the other hand, the inclusion of comments only on neuroendocrine and immune factors leaves out lots on the nature of human aging at the organ system level. Given that the other handbooks in the series deal with psychological aspects of human aging and social aspects of human aging, perhaps a separate book on the physiologic changes of human aging would complement the series. Given the explosive growth in the data and conceptualization about human aging, theoretical and experimental, I do not fault the editors for choosing to concentrate on molecular biology — that's where the action is.