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Pharmacology of Asthma

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Lung Development. Claude Gaultier, Jacques R Bourbon, Martin Post eds. (Pp 451; $89.50). USA: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0 19 511278-4

This book represents the ninth publication in the Clinical Physiology series published for the American Physiological Society and provides a comprehensive review of the multiple facets of lung growth and development in both health and disease. Particular emphasis has been placed on recent advances at the cellular and molecular level with respect to the complex series of controlled interactions involving genetic, hormonal, and cell-cell interactions that are required for lung development. Each chapter is extensively referenced and presents a succinct review of selected topics relevant to lung development by experts in the field.

Inevitably with a multi-author book such as this, there is considerable variability in presentation style with some chapters more accessible to the non-specialist than others. The inclusion of a glossary would have been beneficial in view of the increasing use of abbreviations in this field. Nevertheless, most of the authors have provided an excellent review of their topic and have clearly indicated, not only the current state of knowledge and the clinical significance of recent research findings, but what still needs to be investigated.

The first part of the book is devoted to lung branching morphogenesis, development of the lung elastic matrix and the importance of elastin in lung structure and function, differentiation of airway epithelial cells, and gene expression in alveolar development. Lung development and angiogenesis, including sections which emphasise the importance of postnatal microvascular maturation and the potential impact of exogenous risk factors such as impaired nutrition and glucocorticoid therapy on lung development and alveolisation, are the subject of an important chapter. Other authors have reviewed the developmental aspects of the pulmonary vasculature and circulation, cellular host defence mechanisms, lung epithelial ion transport (including a fascinating overview of its dysfunction in neonatal lung diseases), cell growth and tissue repair, and the role of bioactive peptides.

The last part of the book concentrates on the pathophysiology of neonatal and paediatric pulmonary disorders including discussions of new treatments for surfactant deficiency, the role of nutrition in lung development, the development of lung hypoplasia, and the effects of oxygen toxicity. The final chapter is devoted to a review of current knowledge regarding growth and development of the lung following lung transplantation, including the fact that lung growth can continue when an immature lung is transplanted into either an immature or adult recipient.

The strength of this publication lies in the eclectic mix of topics that are not always covered in books on lung development, and it provides a succinct summary of recent advances and new research in the field. There is now increased awareness that adverse influences on lung development during prenatal and early postnatal life may have lifelong effects. This book should therefore be of potential interest, not only to paediatric pulmonologists, neonatologists, ICU physicians and obstetricians, but also to chest phyisicians and surgeons dealing with older patients.—JS

A course on “COPD: New Developments and Therapeutic Options” organised by Professors Peter Barnes and Neil Pride will be held on 26–28 September 2000 at Imperial College School of Medicine at the National Heart & Lung Institute in collaboration with the Royal Brompton Hospital, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY. Enquiries to: Postgraduate Education Centre, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Medicine, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY, UK. Telephone: 020 7351 8172. Fax: 020 7351 8246. Email:shortcourses.nhli{at}ic.ac.uk

A course on “Pharmacology of Asthma” organised by Professor Peter Barnes will be held on 20–23 November 2000 at Imperial College School of Medicine at the National Heart & Lung Institute in collaboration with the Royal Brompton Hospital, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY. Enquiries to: Postgraduate Education Centre, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Medicine, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY, UK. Telephone: 020 7351 8172. Fax: 020 7351 8246. Email: shortcourses.nhli{at}ic.ac.uk

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