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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Robert Treat Chatterton, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book is the result of a course originally designed and organized to provide an updated picture of the existing knowledge about the association between steroid enzyme expression and function, and the development and progression of major steroid hormone-dependent human cancers. Many of the authors have summarized studies from their laboratories elsewhere, but this is a convenient compendium for students.
Purpose: The articles are written by authorities in their respective research areas, and they provide good coverage of steroid enzymes in cancer. Most of the authors represent research groups that are acknowledged leaders in their fields.
Audience: It is written primarily for students of the medical sciences but it may serve as a convenient source of information for researchers as well. There is a good representation of topics in steroid enzyme studies in cancer, although the book includes a number of short poster papers and the keynote address, which had little relevance to the subject of the book.
Features: Although the book covers the major enzymes involved in the synthesis of steroids, it does not cover the biosynthesis of steroids from cholesterol or earlier precursors and has only two articles on the enzymes involved in inactivation and clearance of steroids. Its preponderant focus is on estrogen formation and metabolism, and largely in relation to breast cancer, although there are two articles on aldo-keto reductases (AKRs) in the prostate and aromatase is discussed in relation to liver and lung cancer. The book starts with a brief introduction to translational research in hormone-related cancer. This is followed by an article on genetic and epigenetic regulation of tumor formation, which has few if any examples of systems in which enzymes of steroid metabolism are involved. Following is a series of articles on AKRs in breast and prostate. These chapters provide a rather comprehensive review of the categorization and function of the 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases in breast cancer and 5alpha-reductase in the prostate. Estrogen hydroxylation is discussed in relation to the ratios of less to more estrogenic products, and dietary and other factors that can alter this ratio. Next, three articles detail the opposing actions of sulfatase and sulfotransferase in formation of estradiol, and progress in developing a sulfatase inhibitor to suppress estradiol formation from sulfated steroid precursors. Eight articles cover aromatase from molecular characterization of aromatase to regulation of expression in breast cancer to opposing roles of estrogen in the prostate to genotoxic effects of estradiol metabolites. Two articles on aromatase inhibitors in breast cancer cover basic mechanisms and clinical efficacy. Also in relation to regulation of estrogenic activity, an article discusses how polymorphisms of P450 enzymes and glucuronidation affect the pharmacology of tamoxifen. Additional topics on aromatase in liver and lung cancers are presented. Following these presentations are summaries of 18 posters, only one of which is from an institution outside of Italy. One of the posters deals with aromatase expression, one with effect of different diseases on estradiol metabolism, one on inhibition of sulfatase, one on registry data documenting results of endocrine therapy in Palermo. The others deal with many aspects of oncology but not with steroids or enzymes of steroid metabolism.
Assessment: This book, from the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, represents the proceedings of a conference held in Italy in May 2008. All articles are written by different authors and, therefore, represent a range of expertise. Nevertheless, any reader interested in endocrinology and cancer will find a number of articles that will make the book worthwhile. The short papers at the end of the book for the most part are not representative of the topic and, therefore, may not find the audience they would like to serve.