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Book Forum: Neural Mechanisms of Illness   |    
Molecular Neurobiology for the Clinician
MICHAEL GARVEY, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:586-b-587. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.3.586-b
View Author and Article Information
Iowa City, Iowa

Edited by Dennis Charney, M.D. Arlington, Va., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2003, 250 pp., $31.95 (paper).

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This multiauthor text explores the current state of knowledge of molecular abnormalities in psychiatric disorders. The book does an outstanding job of illustrating the interface between basic science and clinical psychiatry.

The book has five sections about molecular neurobiology, including chapters on child and adolescent disorders, schizophrenia, drug addiction, mood and anxiety disorders, and the potential roles for molecular neurobiology in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

The authors artfully integrate what is known about genetics and neurochemistry with diagnosis and treatment of several psychiatric disorders. An example of this integration is the discussion about protein kinase C activity, its abnormality in mania, and its attenuation by medications like lithium and valproate. Additionally, the authors show how knowledge of protein kinase C abnormality in mania has led to treatment trials of patients with bipolar disorder with tamoxifen, a breast cancer treatment that inhibits the protein kinase C signaling pathway.

The exciting frontier of psychiatric genetics receives substantial coverage in many chapters of this book. The authors illustrate the potential for genetic findings to explain certain psychiatric phenomena.

Each chapter is accompanied by an extensive bibliography that allows the reader to delve more deeply into numerous neurobiological topics. Several chapters also contain artistic depictions of cellular neuroanatomy and neurochemistry that are quite useful. Reading this book piques one’s interest about how these complex genetic and molecular abnormalities could explain the numerous variations seen in the manifestation of clinical psychiatric disorders.

Molecular Neurobiology for the Clinician presents an excellent foundation of the molecular neurobiology of psychiatry. It will allow professionals already knowledgeable about these topics to update their knowledge and others to gain a useful first look into the fields of genetic and molecular chemistry of psychiatric disorders.

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