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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Edgar F. Allin, MD (Midwestern University)
Description: This is a compilation of 26 invited chapters by 73 authors from 11 countries, synopsizing many aspects of the normal and pathological genetics and epigenetics of bone and cartilage.
Purpose: The goal is "to provide researchers and students with an overview of selected topics of current interest in bone biology and to stimulate their interest in this fascinating and diverse field." In view of the ongoing exponential increase in information on the molecular and developmental biology of skeletal tissues, this is a very worthy aim, and is quite successfully met.
Audience: Most undergraduates, medical students, and clinicians will find this book too advanced or research-oriented for their liking. However, more sophisticated students and inquisitive clinicians should find much of interest and relevance to fields as varied as environmental toxicology, dysmorphogenesis, biomedical engineering, obstetrics, geriatrics, and oncology.
Features: Much attention is given to the agents controlling chondrogenesis and osteogenesis, from intercellular signaling molecules to the regulation of gene expression by transcription factors and post-transcriptional modification of gene products. Bone deposition, resorption, remodeling, and mineralization are all addressed. A very extensive tabulation is presented of human genetic disorders affecting the skeleton and, where known, their probable mechanisms. Several major disorders are considered in some detail. One chapter focuses on effects of disuse, in particular "microgravity" (weightlessness would be a preferable term, given that objects in near-earth orbit are acted on by virtually undiminished gravitational forces but are in continuous free fall). Another chapter extensively surveys prenatal mineral metabolism. There is no glossary but technical terms and acronyms are reintroduced in each chapter, and each chapter has its own bibliography. This makes for considerable repetition but allows chapters to stand alone and still be understood. A single index covers all chapters. Numerous references are cited but the most recent are 2002. Illustrations are not numerous, but most are clear and informative. Few color figures are used. The font size is small and margins narrow, so there is little wasted space. Most chapters are lucidly written. Almost all of the numerous authors are established investigators.
Assessment: This is a valuable book. As is true for any rapidly moving field of science, it was inevitably out of date before even rolling off the press. However, it provides a secure foundation for rapidly updating (by PubMed searches of bibliographic citations, and so forth). Every substantial biomedical library should have this book.