edited by Jonathan Barker and John McGrath. Harwood Academic Publishers (2001) 269 pages. ISBN 90-5823-067-8 $102

Cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion are fundamental to the development and correct maintenance of all tissues, including the epidermis. There are several families of adhesion molecule, and changes in the levels of expression of adhesion molecules are key events in adult physiology and pathology - for example, in the extravasation of white blood cells, in inflammatory processes and wound healing, and in tumour invasion and metastasis. One question that remains unanswered is whether the changes in cell adhesion during these processes are causative or symptomatic of the disease. Thus, it is not surprising that much attention is now being given to the molecular mechanisms that underlie the control of cell adhesion and that some adhesion molecules are now targets for drug development. This expanding field requires scientists and clinicians to join forces and understand further the precise roles of adhesion molecules in skin development and pathology.

Cell Adhesion and Migration in Skin Disease is a basic overview of the role of cell adhesion and migration in all aspects of epithelial biology. It is aimed at newcomers to the field who may have an interest in bridging adhesion cell and molecular biology with physiology and disease. The book is divided clearly into three main aspects of epithelial cell adhesion: cell-cell attachment, cell-matrix attachment and leukocyte trafficking in skin disease. The first section beautifully describes the epidermal cornified envelope, keratins and desmosomes, and disease related to abnormalities in these structures and molecules. The second section, cell-matrix attachment, concentrates on the rivets that adhere the epidermis to the underlying basement membrane, hemidesmosomes. This section contains some wonderfully clear illustrations and immunofluorescence and electron micrographs of hemidesmosomes and the basement membrane. The contributors are international experts in their fields, and the book is the only one of its kind to date. Although an introduction to the family of epithelial cell-matrix adhesion molecules (integrins) is probably best found in other publications, the first two sections comprehensively cover desmosomal and hemidesmosomal cell-adhesion and mutations in such molecules in skin disease.

The third section, on leukocyte trafficking in skin disease, is very informative and includes an important and topical chapter on animal models of skin disease, an aspect of experimental skin biology that is expanding exponentially. The figures are self-explanatory and give a good flavour of the types of pathology and experimental techniques that are routinely considered by cell-adhesion scientists. Linking genetic disease with protein biology is a common theme throughout this book and it is well addressed. I believe this publication would be a good introduction for all those considering a PhD in adhesion cell biology of the skin.