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WAO Medical Book Review

Contributions to Microbiology vol. 15: Trends in Innate Immunity
2008 S. Karger AG
Editors: Arne Egesten, Axel Schmidt, Heiko Herwald
ISSN: 1420-9519

Available from: S. Karger AG
$188 USD

James J. Yun, MBBS
Immunology Registrar
Campbelltown Hospital
New South Wales, Australia

This book is the 15th volume in the series of "Contributions to Microbiology". Rather than trying to cover all topics in the rapidly evolving field of innate immunity, it attempts to provide an update on some of the key developments. Hence, it is appropriately titled "Trends in Innate Immunity".

The purpose of this book is to provide a wide and updated overview on some of the key components of innate immunity. To achieve this, a number of authors around the world with varying expertise ranging from comparative neurobiology and zoology to immunology and microbiology have contributed to this book.

This book is suitable for immunology students and clinicians; in particular to immunologists, microbiologists and those with an interest in immunology who endeavor to attain an up-to-date knowledge in this rapidly moving field. However, those with little background knowledge in basic immunology may find this book unsatisfactory as it only touches on certain aspects of innate immunity and it assumes that the reader will be familiar with basic immunology.

The book consists of 11 articles with topics that deal with the innate immune system in mammals and invertebrates, pattern recognition receptors, antimicrobial peptides, complement, antibacterial chemokines, neutrophils and monocytes, airway epithelium and aging and impairment of innate immunity. The articles cover topics well, provide a great overview and are excellent updates. The book focuses on selected key developments and consequently other major components of the innate immune system such as NK cells are not mentioned in detail.

This book has a limited number of illustrations. Descriptions of concepts in words are often adequate but sometimes they are hard to visualize. Overall, there is a little discussion in the way of linking the advances in innate immunity to diseases and therapeutics. The emphasis is on host defence against pathogens and little is mentioned of innate immune system's role in non-infectious diseases such as autoimmunity, allergy or cancer./p>

This is not a straightforward textbook that deals comprehensively with innate immunity but as a reference that covers certain key topics, it is an excellent update.