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Edited by J Angerer and T Weiss (pp 201) 2002. Weinheim, Federal Republic of Germany: Wiley VCH. ISBN 3 527 277951
This book reports on the output of a symposium addressing the possibilities offered by biological monitoring in occupational and environmental medicine, held in Bonn in March 2000 at the invitation of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Germany has a strong research base in this area, and is one of the pioneers in implementing this field in human practice. Biological monitoring for toxic chemicals involves the use of advanced analytical methods to monitor the fate of the toxin within the body of an exposed individual, and the biological outcome of the exposure. These procedures have been especially well developed for monitoring genotoxic carcinogens, because of our reasonably clear understanding of their mechanism, and also because these compounds produce covalently bound adducts with macromolecules which may be used as biomarkers of exposure and, in the case of DNA, possibly of effect. There is accordingly an emphasis in the book on carcinogens, although other toxins are also well represented. Although there is extensive worldwide interest in the use of biological monitoring techniques, there are surprisingly few good textbooks outlining the perspective of these methods, and the book helps to fill this gap.
The book, which contains 20 chapters of different authorship, deals with biomarkers of internal exposure, DNA adducts and oxidative DNA damage, susceptibility, cytogenetic parameters, immunology, and epidemiology, thus covering the whole process from exposure to disease. For the internal exposure section, the potential value of metabolic profiling is illustrated in one chapter, and the measurement of internal dose by adduct determinations was exemplified for arylamines and nitroarenes in another. The use of measurements of DNA adducts and oxidative DNA damage as biological monitors was considered in the next four chapters. Much of the technology for the determination of DNA damage, for use as an exposure biomarker, is well described. The difficulty of interpreting the acquired data, especially for oxidative damage, as a marker of effect was also discussed. One parameter of considerable potential importance is the effect of genetic polymorphisms on biological effects of carcinogens and other toxins. Chapters covering the polymorphisms of glutathione S-transferases, cytochrome P450, sulfotransferases, and N-acetyltransferases, and the effect that these may have on individual susceptibility are included in the book, together with an example of the use of these techniques in the study of a population exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Methodology for determining chromosome aberrations by traditional techniques and by chromosome painting (for use as a biomarker of effect) and the Comet assay for detecting DNA damage were also covered, together with chapters on the use of immunoglobulins as markers of exposure to allergenic substances, and the immunological effects of polymorphic key enzymes. The book concludes with a review of molecular epidemiology and a valuable summary chapter, which also outlines future requirements of biological monitoring.
This book is not exhaustive, as it is dependent on individual contributions from authors on their own area of expertise. However, it does provide a good overview of the field, both on its methodology and on its applications to human populations, and is reasonably concise, accurate, and up to date (at the time of authorship). It should be particularly useful to those wishing to get a broad perspective of the topic and its possible applications to human health protection.
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