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Normal and pathologic development of the human brain and spinal cord

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    Normal and pathologic development of the human brain and spinal cord. Bymaria dambska and krystyna e wisniewski (Pp 212, £45.00). Published by John Libbey, London, 1999. ISBN 0 86196 591 4

    Recent years have witnessed a considerable increase in the knowledge about the genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in the programming of normal, and the genetic defects implicated in the abnormal development of the CNS. Therefore the need for good introductory texts, which focus on the morphological development and also provide information about the genetic as well as molecular processes, is paramount. The book discussed here is such a concise, summary text and reflects the experience of two distinguished experts; one (MD) is a developmental neuropathologist and the second (KEW) a paediatric neurologist/neuropathologist. The book comprises two parts each with a separate section for references. The first part covering chapters 1-3, deals with the normal, and the second, comprising chapters 4-9, describes the abnormal development. The first two chapters are on the development of the cellular elements of the CNS and vessels, and the third chapter gives an account of the morphogenesis of CNS structures. This relatively long chapter is especially well supported with photomicrographs, informative drawings, and tabulated information. Chapter 4 gives a short overview of the aetiological factors involved in the abnormal development, and chapter 5 deals with the phakomatoses. Chapter 6 on the CNS malformations is understandably one of the longest. It provides a detailed account of the major abnormalities, such as neural tube defects, midline malformations, cortical malformations and dysplasia, cerebellar abnormalities, micrencephaly and megalencephaly, brain stem as well as spinal cord anomalies, hydrocephalus, and also changes related to vascular, skull bone, and meningeal anomalies. There are short chapters on developmental disturbances due to chromosomal aberrations (chapter 7), late anomalies (chapter 8), and finally on delay of the CNS maturation (chapter 9).

    This is a concise and well written book, which makes entertaining reading even for the non-paediatric neuropathologist reviewer. The chapters are well balanced and the illustrations are of good quality. I have no hesitation in recommending this book not only for neuropathologists, especially for trainees, but also for paediatric neurologists requiring a specialist knowledge of both normal and abnormal CNS development.

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