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BYDIETER REHDER Bioinorganic vanadium chemistry John Wiley & SonsWiley-Blackwell 2008 224 pp.

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Book Review
Published online in Wiley Interscience 23 June 2009
( DOI 10.1002/aoc.1523
Book Review
Bioinorganic vanadium chemistry
John Wiley & Sons/Wiley-Blackwell, 2008, 224 pp.
price �.00/�.00 (paperback), �.00/�2.00 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-470-06516-7, 978-0-470-06509-9
Appl. Organometal. Chem. 2009 , 23, 425?426
Dieter Rehder describes both the
nature of the metal vanadium and
its relevance for biological processes. The Introduction begins
with the history of vanadium i.e.
its discovery, (including a nice little
anecdote concerning Wo?hler and
Sefstro?m), the origin of its name,
stemming from a nordic goddess
symbolising beauty and fertility,
the difficulties of isolating it in its
metallic form and it having been
mistaken repeatedly for chromium.
Occurrence, distribution and impact are described in the second
part of the Introduction with impact meaning toxicity, influence
on growth of organisms, pollution issues and its use in industrial processes and in tools. Chapter two deals with the inorganic
and coordination chemistry of vanadium. Several distribution diagrams of vanadium species over large pH ranges are shown
and examples of vanadium complexes? pKa values are given. All
this of course is relevant for its biological role where it could be
exposed to very different pH values, especially if being swallowed.
Vanadium redox chemistry is mentioned with tables of redox
potentials and its interaction with other inorganic compounds,
leading to discussion on the formation of secondary and tertiary
systems. Important compounds often used as starting materials
such as vanadium halides and esters are introduced briefly as
well as vanadium?s interactions with biogenic ligand systems. The
chapter ends with general coordination chemistry, introducing all
kinds of known vanadium compounds, which are distinguished
from each other mainly with respect to their potential to be used
as models for biological vanadium forms, or not. A little more
than one page is finally dedicated to the vanadium?carbon bond,
which is comparatively rare but could play a role in the chemistry
of nitrogenase when other substrates than nitrogen are processed.
The majority of these compounds though contain CO and CN?
ligands rather than typical organic ones.
Chapter three introduces the various physicochemical methods
that can be used to characterise artificial as well as natural
vanadium compounds. Most importantly 51 V-NMR spectroscopy
is described in great detail, which is not unexpected considering
that the author is a pioneer and designated expert of this field.
The method, however, is introduced in a way that is easily
intelligible for everyone with only the most basic knowledge
of NMR spectroscopy. The second, almost as large, part of this
chapter is dedicated to EPR spectroscopy. Again its background
is comprehensively introduced and suitable for non-experts.
Vanadium EPR spectra are usually both useful and beautiful due
to the eight-line hyperfine splitting for its nucleus? spin of 7/2
and a considerable amount of information about the vanadium
centre and its coordination sphere can be obtained from it. All
this is described in detail. In addition two special EPR methods
(ENDOR and ESEEM), optical spectroscopy, circular dichroism and
X-ray absorption spectroscopy are introduced rather shortly and
comparably cursorily. This may be because they are not really
special with respect to vanadium. Although the understanding of
these latter methods is certainly helpful for reading through the
following chapters, there are better descriptions of them available
in the (specialised) literature if one wants to learn about techniques
and interpretation.
With chapters four and five, starting at page 87, eventually the
biological role of vanadium is dealt with, which according to the
title is the core purpose of this book. In chapter four are described
all the various naturally occurring vanadium compounds in great,
sometimes even surprising, detail. It may be unexpected for some
readers that vanadium distribution and variety in nature is so
large. Model chemistry is an important part of this chapter, as is
the delineation of resolved and still elusive issues (for instance
the role of haemovanadin and amavadin, how halides bind
to the haloperoxidases, and the place of nitrogen binding and
transformation in nitrogenase). With respect to model chemistry,
the author distinguishes clearly between structural and functional
models and explains the usefulness of models for solving biological
questions and in synthetic processes whilst also mentioning their
limits. Chapter five is dedicated to medicinal aspects of vanadium
chemistry, i.e. its influence on cellular functions. Here the most
important facet is probably the antidiabetic potential of vanadium
complexes. Details of diabetes mellitus are described, as well as the
history of the more-or-less successful attempts to use vanadium
in its treatment. Many vanadium compounds have been tested so
far, mainly on cell cultures or cats, the most promising being quite
simple compounds such as bis(maltolato)oxovanadium. However,
none has been approved for treatment of human beings so far.
The various factors that need to be taken into account in order
to find a suitable molecule to be used as a drug are described
vividly. Vanadium?s further potential to be used as a treatment
for other diseases (HIV, cancer), though still rather futuristic, is
also mentioned. Finally, to complete this chapter, the variety of
possible interactions between vanadium and proteins is explored.
The very last item (before the inevitable and comprehensive
index) is an epilogue in which the author shares his thoughts about
chemistry in general and the element vanadium in particular.
Its symbol V is the foundation for some unexpected and not
exceedingly seriously meant connections to wine (vinum), the
quintessence, etc. Some personal experiences and a foresight of
vanadium chemistry of the future conclude this book.
c 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Copyright Book Review
To summarize, this is an easy to read and partly even
entertaining book suitable for all who are interested in biological
vanadium chemistry from a level of graduate students up.
It is comprehensible throughout without being shallow. For
further reading each chapter finishes with a extensive list of
references (about 380 in total). This book is a good supplement
for more general textbooks of bioinorganic chemistry in which
the vanadium chemistry is often undeservedly briefly considered.
One criticism is that about half of the book is dedicated to
introduction, general vanadium chemistry and physicochemical
methods before it really goes in medias res. However, this first half
of the book certainly helps in understanding the second part; the
latter being what the title suggests the book is really all about.
Carola Schulzke
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
c 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Copyright Appl. Organometal. Chem. 2009, 23, 425?426
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224, chemistry, 2008, rehder, blackwell, bioinorganic, bydieter, vanadium, sonswiley, wiley, john
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