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October 10, 1977

Disturbances in Body Fluid Osmolality

JAMA. 1977;238(15):1671. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280160065036

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This book is the latest consequence of our amphibious ancestors' decision to crawl onto dry land and evolve from fish to physiologist. It is a good book, complete, erudite, and up to date. It encompasses a sizable segment of the new body of knowledge that within living memory has revolutionized the biomedical sciences, but it suffers, perhaps, from attempting to be all things to all people, by serving as a source of information for the physiologist as well as a reference book for the clinician.

The first five chapters are heavy going and should be read in the same way as the later Henry James novels— slowly, and preferably aloud. These chapters deal with the molecular structure of vasopressin and related octapeptides, with their circulatory and natriuretic actions, and with the mechanisms of water and solute transport across epithelial membranes. There are detailed discussions of the adenylate cyclase—cyclic adenosine monophosphate