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    Edited by William E Paul , Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2003. Hardcover book plus CD-ROM, 1701 pages. Price: US$149.00.

    Fundamental Immunology is considered an authoritative reference book on immunology. It was first published in 1984, and 20 years later, its continued success is evidenced by the release of the fifth edition. The goal of this book is to provide an authoritative treatise on fundamental aspects of immunology to advanced students of the subject, postdoctoral fellows as well as experienced immunologists.However, the book is not appropriate for the uninitiated.

    As noted by the Editor, the field of immunology is a rapidly evolving one where consensus has not yet been reached on certain principles, mechanisms or pathways and there is bound to be some disagreement with respect to some conclusions reached. Thus, although Fundamental Immunology is meant to be an authoritative reference book, it is expected that the reader might challenge the perspectives of individual contributors. The fifth edition of the book has retained the basic organizational structure of the earlier editions. Some new chapters on specific areas have been included, whereas some others have been removed. There are 91 contributors - all considered experts in their respective areas of immunology although, curiously, only 14 of these are from outside of the USA. The book is divided into nine sections, encompassing 50 chapters.

    Section I contains two chapters. The first is an introductory chapter by WE Paul, which provides an overview of the organization and workings of the immune system. The second chapter is a treatise on the history of immunology. This is an important chapter that provides an overview of major developments in the field of immunology, starting with vaccination (smallpox inoculation, also termed variolation), which was practised by the Chinese, Indians, Japanese and the Turks long before Edward Jenner used cowpox virus instead of variola virus for the same purpose. Many believe that Jenner'sexperiments mark the beginnings of modern immunology. The presentation of major milestones in immunology over the past two centuries, since Jenner, allows one to appreciate how the field has evolved to be what it is today. Nevertheless, our disappointment with this chapter is that there is no mention of the discovery of MHC restriction of T-cell recognition by Peter Doherty and Rolf Zinkernagel. This is an important milestone in immunology for which these scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1996.

    Section II, 'Immunoglobulins and B lymphocytes', consists of five chapters that cover various aspects of B-lymphocyte development, biology, activation and signalling and the structure, function and molecular genetics of immunoglobulins. One chapter is dedicated to antigen-antibody interactions and monoclonal antibodies.

    Section III contains six chapters that cover T cells and NK cells. Four of these chapters deal with receptors, development, activation and responses of T cells. One chapter is dedicated to NK cells and the sixth chapter covers accessory molecules and costimulation.

    The next section (section IV), 'Organizationand Evolution of the Immune system', consists of five chapters. At first glance, the organization of this section did not seem to make sense, but it did so as one moved from chapter to chapter.The first chapter in this section deals with lymphoid tissues and organs, followed by individual chapters on dendritic cells, macrophages, the innate immune system and the evolution of the immune system.

    Section V, 'Antigen Processing and Presentation', contains one chapter on the MHC and one on antigen processing and presentation. The next section (section VI) deals withan important aspect of immunity: immune regulation. There are 13 chapters in section VI and one of these is on the regulatory Tcells, an area that was neglected for many years but which has received much attention in the past few years.

    Four chapters in section VII deal with the effector mechanisms of immunity: the complement system, phagocytosis, cytotoxicT lymphocytes and inflammation. The effector systems that are activatedto control microbial pathogens sometimes can exacerbate the disease and this has been considered in this section.

    A section on immunity to infectious agents (section VIII) is a new addition with an appreciation of the immune system as a host defence system that has coevolved with microbial pathogens - a fact often overlooked by some immunologists. There are four chapters in this section; these deal with various classes of pathogens (viruses, parasites and intracellular and extracellular bacteria) but not fungal pathogens. An entire chapter has been dedicated tothe immunology of HIV infection and the last chapter in this section is a good one on vaccines.

    The final section (section IX) deals with immunological mechanismsin disease. Two chapters are dedicated to systemic and organ-specific autoimmunity, one chapter to allergy and two to transplantation and tumour immunology. The last two chapters are on primary immunodeficient diseases and immunotherapy.

    Given the pace with which the field is moving, it is not surprisingthat the number of pages in this edition of Fundamental Immunology has nearly doubled since the first edition was published 20 years ago. This is a good reference book that all medical libraries should own. However, we believe that the book could be improved through the better use of illustrations. Although there are a number of colour plates, more should be added. Appropriately presented colour illustrations would certainly help clarify some of the complex immunological principles, mechanisms or pathways. In addition, there are some figures in this edition of Fundamental Immunology that have been poorly reproduced (e.g. Figure 9 in Chapter 18), and some that are very small (e.g. Figure 2 in Chapter 3) and hard to read. There are also a number of minor typographical errors throughout the book. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend this book to anyone intending to own a good, advanced immunology reference book.


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