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Book Reviews
September 2003

Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience

Arch Neurol. 2003;60(9):1339-1340. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.9.1339-a

by Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Steven E. Hyman, MD, and Robert C. Malenka, MD, PhD, 539 pp, with illus, $54.95, McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division, New York, NY, 2001.

What a clever idea—3 young leaders of modern molecular neuropharmacology, all medically trained and scientifically accomplished, combine their diverse interests and specialties to provide students, residents, and fellows with fundamental knowledge on how drugs act on the nervous system. This is not just an introductory text long on principles and short on details. Rather, it is an in-depth examination of the various molecular building blocks through which drugs begin their actions through specific receptors, and how that binding alters intracellular systems in the short and long term, eventually affecting gene expression and adaptive responses to the drugs in the presence of the conditions for which they were prescribed. Part 1, Fundamentals of Neuropharmacology, begins with a brief review of modern methods for characterizing drug-receptor dynamics and the interrelationships between neurons and glia. Not only do the authors give a detailed explanation for the biophysical mechanisms of neuronal excitability and the various functional forms of synaptic transmission, they include detailed examinations of the factors influencing the regulation of genetic transcription and the role of protein phosphorylation in the intracellular signal transduction processes. In part 2, Neural Substrates of Drug Action, they offer an extensive but concise review of the major families of neurotransmitters, including an up-to-date overview of neurotransmitters that are often overlooked, such as the purines, growth factors, cytokines, chemokines, and neuroactive steroids, and the multiple steps determining whether an insult will lead to programmed cell death. Unquestionably, the first two thirds of the book provide the foundation intended.

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