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WAO Medical Book Review

Skin Immune System: Cutaneous Immunology and Clinical Immunodermatology. Edited by Jan D. Bos. CRC Press, 3rd edition, 2005.

Reviewed by Salvador Gala, PhD
University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia.

This multi-authored text draws together a range of specialists who present detailed reviews of specific topics pertaining to immunodermatology. In doing so, the Editor goes some way towards his aim of integrating, as a single volume, expert accounts of physiological, pathological and clinical aspects of the skin immune system. Forty-one chapters are grouped into major sections: these include general introductory, cellular, humoral, pathological, clinical and therapeutic subject areas in immunodermatology.

The outstanding attribute of this reference text is the in-depth nature of reviews, particularly relating to mechanisms of normal physiology and disease. Most chapters are relatively up-to-date, although references after 2003 are infrequent. Whilst a broad spectrum of topics is covered, there is a general bias towards inflammatory aspects of immunodermatology; for example, there is minimal coverage of mechanisms of autoimmunity or IgE biology. Indexing of major subject areas is adequate, but cross-referencing between chapters is very limited.

This book is not for clinicians involved in the care of patients with skin disorders. Standard dermatology textbooks better deal with the subject of clinical dermatology. The lack of high quality photography is a limiting factor for a book that attempts to cover clinical aspects of immune skin disorders. Similarly, the book is not for the undergraduate student. Readers without a background in basic immunology will have difficulty in following the detailed scientific discussions in most chapters.

The book will most likely benefit the postgraduate researcher who requires a comprehensive review of a specific topic relating to immunology of the skin, but who already possesses a firm understanding of basic immunological and inflammatory mechanisms. Most individual chapters represent detailed reviews of specific subject areas in immunodermatology; the collective information contained within individual chapters would otherwise be difficult to access by reference to its primary sources. However, at a price of $219.95 USD, its function will likely be confined to that of a reference text in an institutional, rather than personal or departmental, library.

ISBN: 0849319595
Available at www.crcpress.com