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WAO Medical Book Review

Immunology, Infection and Immunity
2004 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Press
Editors: Gerald B. Pier, Jeffrey B. Lyczak, Lee M. Wetzler
ISBN: 978-1-55581-283-6

Available from: ASM Press
$79.95 or $89.95 when bundled with Digital Learning Guide

James J. Yun, MBBS
Immunology & Allergy
Campbelltown Hospital
Cambelltown, New South Wales

While there are many textbooks that attempt to describe the complex immune system in great details, there are few, if any, that focus on one of the key roles of immune system - immunity from infection. Immunology, infection, and immunity deals with this ongoing struggle between infectious agents and host defence system. It approaches this topic mainly from an immunology point of view without neglecting components of infection. As a standalone textbook in immunology, it faithfully explains various components of immune system in depth like many others. While it provides a solid description of immune system's interaction with pathogens, it is weaker on the specific details of infectious agents themselves. Then again, this is not a microbiology textbook. As an immunology textbook, it has chapters on immune system dysfunction. They are not heavy in details but they do provide a concrete description of these complex subjects.

The purpose is to provide the reader with a detailed description of the immune system, its role in maintaining immunity and its dysfunction in terms of infection and other immunological conditions.

The textbook is suitable for clinicians and researchers with a special interest in the discipline of immunology and microbiology. Medical students may find it too heavy but the texts are quite a good reading and the illustrations are excellent. This book will be a useful adjunct to a library. Certain sections of the book will provide useful materials for in-depth reading at both undergraduate and graduate level curriculum..

The first half of the book is devoted to the description of various components of immune system. It is well written, sufficiently detailed, great in illustrations and exceptional in tying the immune system with infection, especially at molecular level. The second half of the book describes the ongoing struggle between host defence mechanism and various pathogens. It provides a good overview and principles of immunity but lacks in details of specific pathogens. The last section of the book provides a brief but solid review of immune dysfunctions in terms of immunodeficiency, cancer immunology, immune overactivity and transplantation. Its strength is in explaining the role of immunology in the pathogenesis of diseases but it is lacking in clinical description and management.

While Immunology, infection, and immunity is not the most comprehensive immunology textbook in either breadth or depth, it provides an excellent explanation of the immune system in its role in maintaining immunity and the mechanisms by which infectious agents overcome this immunity. As a stand alone immunology textbook, it is not lacking in any way. However, it is certainly not a clinical textbook but rather describes the connection between the discipline of immunology and microbiology from an immunological perspective.