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The mast cells. By James F. Riley. x + 182 pages 65 figures. $6.75. E. & S. Livingstone Ltd. Eindburgh and The Williams & Wilkins Company Baltimore. 1959

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cerned with events in the tissues rather
than in the blood. Later he noticed the
association of histamine with mast cells
and the development of the concept that
they liberate histamine is the theme of this
The first part deals with the history of
investigations concerning mast cells, beginning with their discovery by Ehrlich in
1877 and reported in his first public dissertation in 1879. He called them “Mastzellen” (well-fed cells) because they were
more numerous in connective tissue of enhanced nutrition. In trying out some of the
new dyes he discovered the affinity of their
granules for basic dyes and their metachromatic staining reaction. Other chapters in this part deal with the mast cell in
comparative anatomy, in pathological conditions, and their association with heparin.
The second part of the book is concerned
with experimental studies, primarily those
of the author. The distribution of mast
cells in laboratory mammals and the effect
of histamine liberators on these cells is
described. The presence of histamine in
them in normal and pathological conditions is demonstrated. The effect of a specific histamine liberator on the mast cells
of rats and mice is brought out in detail
and the cytochemistry of the granules is
carefully presented.
Other chapters are concerned with more
general aspects of the presence and role of
histamine and heparin. Particular interest
is shown in the relation of mast cells to
histamine in the skin.
THE MAST CELLS. By James F. Riley.
The last chapter gives a concise sumx
182 pages, 65 figures. $6.75. E. & mary of the functions of the mast cell
S. Livingstone Ltd., Edinburgh and The stressing the author’s hypothesis that histaWilliams & Wilkins Company, Balti- mine is stored in mast cell granules. He
more. 1959.
theorizes that heparin is mainly trapped in
The author of this book has published the tissues where it acts as a reservoir of
more than a dozen articles concerning mucopolysaccharides for the fibroblasts to
mast cells in as many years. He traces his utilize in fibrillogenesis.
The illustrations are mostly photomicrointerest in these cells back to his student
days when his favorite teacher had to ad- graphs of superior quality. There is a
mit that he did not know their function. bibliography of some 360 references with
Then, during experimental production of full titles, and an adequate index. This is
carcinomas and the effect of injections of a concise, logically presented, and easily
herparin in carcinogenesis,his interest was readable account of a rather new hypothrejuvenated. He returned to Ehrlich’s orig- esis concerning the functions of this eniginal conception that mast cells are con- matic cell.
figures prominently but more through mediaeval Galenism than the sound contributions of Galen the Anatomist. For example,
he recounts the fabulous properties of the
rete mirabile at the base of the brain,
whereas Galen’s own words give a not unreasonable description of the circle of Willis. Magoun’s final sentence contains a
penetrating comment on “the m i n d :
“Such concepts were not finally laid to rest
until the early 19th century when phrenology shifted attention from the internal
ventricles to the cortical surface of the
hemispheres and so opened a way for the
development of contemporary views of localization of higher functions within the
The Biology of Consciousness is discussed in a well-documented chapter by
Homer W. Smith but the last chapter in
this section by the Pastoral Psychopathologist, Gregory Zilberg, on the Dynamic
Process in Psychiatry is without references.
The earlier part of this section scarcely
prepares the reader for this sortie into the
realms of intuition as a scientific tool.
The other sections of the book are all
interesting and informative but are less
associated with anatomical background
than the above and will not be reviewed.
Section 3 is entitled Humoral Transport
and Integrative Function; Section 4 is
Mechanistic Thought, Energetics, and Control in Biology; Section 5 is the Vital Processes and the Diseased State.
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livingstone, figuren, mastr, 1959, company, page, ltd, cells, wilkins, william, 182, riley, eindburgh, baltimore, james
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