Skeletal muscle in health and disease: A textbook of muscle physiology

Skeletal muscle in health and disease: A textbook of muscle physiology

226 Book Reviews Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Other Motor Neuron Diseases (Advances in Neurology, Volume 56). Edited by Letls P. ROWLAND. Publi...

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Book Reviews

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Other Motor Neuron Diseases (Advances in Neurology, Volume 56). Edited by Letls P. ROWLAND. Published 1991 by Raven Press, New York. ISBN 0 88167 748 5, 569 pp. Price $169. This, the most recent volume in the "'Advances in Neurology" series, represents the edited proceedings of a conference held in late 1989. All aspects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (usually referred to as motor neurone disease in the U.K.) are considered in detail. As the editor points out in his introduction, which is a model of clarity, this may not be a single disease entity. There may be several different kinds of motor neurone diseases and we shall advance " . . . if we can chip away at them one by one, that understanding the pathogenesis of one form provides clues to the others, and that treatment of one form may also give clues to pathogenesis and treatment of others". Thus if the pathogenesis of ALS and childhood SMA are in any way related (though some might doubt this), then the location of the responsible gene for the latter condition to 5q may have relevance to some forms of ALS. Furthermore, rare but well documented associations or unique cases could well be revealing in regard to pathogenesis, such as the apparent clustering of cases in the same ollice building, patients who improve when a coincidental cancer is removed: and of course rare familial cases. The possibility of viral, immunological, toxic and genetic factors are all discussed in some detail. Though there are as yet no final answers and no candidate genes on the horizon, this volume provides an excellent, authoritative and up-to-date review of the current situation, and will therefore be found of considerable interest to all involved in this tragic and puzzling condition. ALAN EMERY

Skeletal Muscle in Health and Disease: A Textbook of Muscle Physiology. DAVID A. JONESand JoAn M. ROUND. Published 1990 by Manchester University Press, Manchester. ISBN 0 7190 3164 8, Price £9.95. This is a remarkably comprehensive yet easy to read, practical account of skeletal muscle physiology. It is based on extensive original work on human and animal muscle structure and function with relevance to human disease. The authors have a well-established reputation in the field and have used this to good effect in teaching gen-

erations of students. The first part of this book covers muscle structure in terms of histology, histochemistry and electron microscopy. Ready access by percutaneous muscle biopsy under local anaesthesia has been of pivotal importance for providing samples for morphological and biochemical analysis. Studies in the mechanisms underlying_ force generation in single fibres are summarised as are descriptions of the organisation of the motor unit. The effect of growth development and ageing human muscle are summarised in relation to suitability for different athletic events. This book continues in a useful chapter on the physiology of training for different types of muscular activities. The fuel economics of exercise and the factors underlying muscle fatigue are clearly presented with reproductions of several original myograms to illustrate particular characteristics. As widely appreciated, damage can occur as a result of excessive forces being generated or absorbed in muscles during manual labour or sporting activities. A substantial body of the information as to the physiological mechanisms underlying the muscle pain occurring during exercise or the stiffness that follows strenuous or unaccustomed activity, is derived from original research in which the authors were key collaborators. It is clear from this work that while the muscular discomfort (or pain in patients with a poor peripheral circulation or muscle enzyme defects) experienced during exercise may well be metabolic in origin: the stiffness which develops and regresses over the days after exercise is due to cellular damage. This damage is more likely to occur after contractions in which muscles resist lengthening, "eccentric" contractions, than with the "concentric" contractions in which muscles shorten. Though the book is evidently not intended as a clinical text it has a commendably concise but authoritative account of the ways in which muscle structure and function are altered in disease. This book has already achieved international attention in the field of human physiology, sports medicine, physiotherapy and myology. As an introduction to muscle and a working handbook it cannot be too highly recommeffded, especially when the very reasonable price is considered. RICHARD EDWARDS