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This book undertakes an extensive review of the fast moving field of cell death, an area of neurobiology that is currently the centre of intensive investigation both at the level of mechanisms and disease pathogenesis. The book divides into four sections that move from cellular and molecular mechanisms to animal models and human disease with possible therapeutic interventions bringing up the rear. It is thus a book that will interest both neuroscientists and neurologists alike, albeit a rather select group in each case.
The chapters are generally well written although a little sparse on illustrations, which can make some of the chapters quite daunting and intimidating. For example, the chapter on Parkinson's disease has only one figure in 12 pages of text, which tends to put all but the most dedicated reader off. In this chapter there is also evidence of some delay from the time of writing to publication as there is no real mention of the recent genetic advances in familial Parkinson's disease which should be in there given that the book was published in 1999. This is a pity given that this is currently a burgeoning field and the possible contribution of these genetic defects (for example, α-synuclein and parkin) in understanding the pathogenesis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease is a major research interest at the present time. However other chapters are more up to date; for example, the chapter on Huntington's disease discusses intranuclear inclusions even though their significance is still currently not known—do they represent a precursor to cell death or a marker of cellular neuroprotection?
Overall though the book is well presented both in terms of the topics selected and their discussion with a generally high quality of figures, including a series of rather beautiful colour plates in the middle of the book. It is therefore a book that will be a useful addition to the libraries of neurologists with an interest in neurodegenerative disorders, although other neurological conditions associated with neuronal death are touched on (for example, viral encephalitis, HIV-1 infection, trauma, and schizophrenia) which may widen its appeal. However this book will probably only ultimately interest those seeking greater neuroscientific understanding of neuronal cell loss and as such will bypass most neurologists.
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