books book reviews

books on inflammation

reviewed by T. Nelson

book review Score+5

The Innate Immune System: A compositional and functional perspective
by T.P. Monie
Academic Press, 2017, 214 pages

Reviewed by T. Nelson

I bought this little book by accident, but it turned out to have more information than some of my larger textbooks.

There are two distinct immune systems in the human body. One is the adaptive immune system, an enormously complex and sophisticated system that custom-manufactures cells and antibodies to be specific for each antigen. The other is the innate immune system, which attacks foreign antigens based on their shared chemical properties.

The innate immune system is the only one that invertebrates have. Its advantage is that it reacts instantly to an invading microorganism. But it's hardly unsophisticated: it has pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors and a phalanx of cytokines, acute phase proteins, and complement proteins that can identify, tag, and destroy foreign cells. In humans the two systems work together, with each triggering the other.

Autoimmune diseases like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis are dysfunctions of the adaptive system, while autoinflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and familial Mediterranean fever are dysfunctions of the innate system. As described in Textbook of Autoinflammation (reviewed at right), we now think of each inflammatory disease as fitting somewhere on a continuum between the two systems.

Unlike those giant multi-author doorstop-style books, this one is not only up to date but concise, non-repetitive, and authoritative. Anyone with some background in biochemistry could read it in a few hours. That's something you can't say for Rose and Mackay's 1500-page The Autoimmune Diseases. Drop that baby on your desk and you'll be sorry.

may 06, 2020

book review Score+3

Textbook of Autoinflammation
by Hashkes, Laxer, Simon, eds.
Springer, 2019, 820 pages

Despite the title, this is not a textbook. It's a collection of review papers, supposedly in seven sections but really only two: basic science and specific diseases. The basic science part suffers badly from review paper syndrome, with undigested descriptions of papers. Here's a section picked at random:

The NF-κB activation seen in response to stimulation with the small molecule imidazoquinoline agonist R848 was shown to be mediated by either TLR7 or TLR8 in human cells. It was previously published that this response was specific to TLR7 when using murine TLRs in a HEK293T system [91]. Jurk et al. reproduced this result and suggested that TLR8 is nonfunctional in mice [94]. [p.69]

The section on diseases is a bit more organized, but again these are review papers written by specialists, each of whom is only interested in one specific disease. Overall this book is beautifully printed, with colorful diagrams, and it's a useful reference work if you know which disease you're interested in. On the other hand, if you need information on, say, interleukin-1, it's spread over numerous articles. This is not a good book for learning the molecular biology.

Great encyclopedia but not a textbook. Color photos of patients, most of whom appear to be in extreme pain. Disclaimer: I read only about one third of this one so far.

may 07, 2020

book review Score+2

The Autoimmune Diseases, 6e
Rose and Mackay, eds
Academic Press, 2020, 1508 pages

Gigantic and verbose. Printed on a seven-inch-wide single-column format, which gives your eye muscles a tremendous workout. Do not assign this book to your students—they will club you to death with their cell phones. Covers only traditional autoimmune diseases; newer topics like the connection between autoimmune disorders and autism or schizophrenia aren't covered.

Disclaimer: I did not read this one in its entirety.

may 07, 2020