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WAO Medical Book Review

Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Immunology
Authors: Thao Doan, Roger Melvold, Susan Viselli, and Carl Waltenbaugh
Editors: Richard A. Harvey, Pamela C. Champe
ISBN-10: 0-7817-9543-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-7817-9543-2

Available from: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
List Price: 46.95 USD

Josh Phillips, MD
Division of Allergy & Immunology, University of South Florida College of Medicine

Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews is a highly-regarded series designed to provide a review of essential topics for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. The series is recognized for their full-color illustrations, chapter summaries, study questions, and case studies. Such learning tools synthesize clinical and scientific concepts, giving students a more complete review. This latest addition to the series lives up to their high standards.

The authors have divided the text into four units, representing larger immunological concepts: Self/Non-self, Innate Immune System, Adaptive Immune System, and Clinical Aspects of Immunity. These broad topics are subdivided into chapters, with emphasis on molecular aspects, MHC recognition, lymphocyte development and activation. Later chapters focus on specific topics such as immunodeficiency, transplantation, and laboratory techniques to evaluate immunity.

This series is well-known for its figures, and an early figure stands out in its depiction of infection as a monopoly-style board game. A roll of the dice may land a microbe on a natural killer cell (depicted as a rabid dog) or an immune defect, in which the microbe advances to the end (sepsis). Another figure depicts the neutrophil as a restaurant patron selecting from a limited menu, while the lymphocyte can mix-and-match from dozens of palatable options. This effectively illustrates the contrast of the relatively limited innate response vs. the adaptive response in which clonally-derived lymphocytes can respond to 1010 different receptors.

At the conclusion of each chapter there are five-to-ten USMLE-style questions to solidify core concepts, accompanied by answers and explanations on the same page. This is preferred over other texts, which may refer back to a page number for the explanation, but some may be tempted to merely read the explanations rather than answer the questions. Also, the clinical applications and case presentations are short, too few in number, and not followed by questions.

The preliminary chapters oversimplify some concepts, but later chapters are quite thorough, using molecular cell biology to explain complex ideas. As such, this text may be too advanced for undergraduate study and overly broad for PhD candidates in immunology. However, medical students looking for more detail than the typical "high-yield" review may find the balance ideal. While this review is by no means all-inclusive, it provides a thorough review of important topics and concepts in immunology.