WAO Medical Book Review
Under the editorial supervision of Dr. Connie Katelaris
Posted: July 2011
Infection and Immunity (Third Edition)
Editors: John H.L. Playfair, Gregory J. Bancroft
2008 Oxford University Press
List Price: $67.95
Available at Oxford University Press
Nicole M. Chase, MD
Fellow, Division of Allergy/Clinical Immunology
Department of Pediatrics
Medical College of Wisconsin
This tablet-sized, soft-cover text provides an introductory foray into the intimate relationship between infectious diseases and immunology. The 341 pages (35 chapters) are divided into three parts, which detail the principles of each field, and explore the interactions between pathogens and hosts. This edition, published in 2008, has been updated from the 2nd edition in 2004, including new, full-color illustrations throughout.
This text is intended to provide a thorough, yet manageable, overview of the key concepts of infectious disease, the foundations of basic and clinical immunology, and the interplay of these two disciplines in the social context of modern society. It includes sections on host/pathogen interactions, immune deficiencies, emerging diseases, and ethical concerns.
The relaxed writing style and fluidity of text makes this book particularly attractive for undergraduate students with minimal prior training in infectious disease or immunology. For advanced trainees, the book is a quick, leisurely read, and makes for a well-rounded, although abbreviated, review of the tenets of both fields of study.
Part one (chapters 1-8) comprises a thorough introduction to common pathogens, including prions. The topics of virulence and susceptibility factors are addressed, and mechanisms of pathogen survival are explained from an evolutionary perspective. Part two (chapters 9-25) delves into the host immune system, and includes dedicated sections featuring both both innate and adaptive immunity. Also discussed are primary and secondary immunodeficiency defects that resulting in enhanced susceptibility to infection, as well as chapters on hypersensitivity and autoimmune diseases. Part three (chapters 26-35) encompasses the interactions between pathogen and host, and includes chapters on epidemiology, vaccination, emerging diseases and public health. Tutorials after each section provide a built-in opportunity for enhanced retention of the key concepts through independent appraisal of the key concepts. Color-coded boxes placed throughout the text add corollaries to the material, and offer historical perspectives on the development of both fields. The book also contains a basic glossary and several appendices, including lists of common pathogens associated with human infection, featured cytokines, cluster of differentiation antigens, and references for further reading.
Overall, this text is the type of book that students generally enjoy reading. As a basic primer on infectious disease and immunology, a subject matter that could become overwhelming and cumbersome, it presents the information in a thorough and easy-to-follow manner.
The contributions are from clinicians and researchers who are pre-eminent in their field. These experts provide descriptions of, and insight into, the features of PIDs that are hard to glean from other sources. Their experience infuses the text, from their explanations of molecular pathogenesis to clinical approaches. Each chapter has a few black-and-white figures and tables, and is fully referenced.
This book is an excellent basic text, well-written in a compassionate, engaging manner. The easy readability and updated color illustrations and make this an accessible source of information for students of the biological sciences.