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Ethnic differences in reactions to drugs and xenobiotics. Edited by W. Kalow H.W. Goedde and D.P. Agarwal. New York Alan R. Liss. 1986. xiii + 583 pp. figures tables index. $90

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410
BOOK REVIEWS
imals achieved mastery of a startlingly large
number of “words” and were able to string
them together in apparently meaningful
ways, none seems to have achieved a mastery of syntax that would have placed its
abilities near the level of human language.
The second part of the chapter deals with
natural communication, i.e., vocalizations,
communicative postures, facial expressions,
and athletic displays, within the various
species of apes. “Sociality and Sociobiology”
considers those topics that one would expect
under such a heading, i.e., group structures, group formation, agonistic behavior,
grooming, food sharing, mate selection, sexual activity, infanticide, and so forth. The
juxtaposition of information on the various
ape species makes strikingly clear the stark
contrast between the monogamous social
structure and limited, highly similar behavior patterns characterizing all gibbon species and the variety of societal organizations
and behaviors among great apes. Perhaps
the strongest impression to emerge from the
field studies of great apes is the frequency
and magnitude of behavioral differences
among populations of the same species.
Anyone dealing with such a variety of topics can hardly avoid covering some material
in a manner that specialists in that area will
consider less than ideal. Many taxonomists,
ETHNIC
DIFFERENCES
IN REACTIONS TO DRUGS
AND XENOBIOTICS.
Edited by W. Kalow,
H.W. Goedde, and D.P. Agarwal. New York:
Alan R. Liss. 1986. xiii 583 pp., figures,
tables, index. $90.00 (cloth).
+
This book is the outcome of a conference
held in 1985 in Germany. The title of the
text gives the purpose of the conference and
the resultant printed product. The contributors aimed to elucidate differences between
human groups that become apparent on exposure to pharmacologic or toxic agents. The
papers have been organized into six titled
but unnumbered sections in addition to the
preface and summary remarks. The first section contains introductory information, the
second deals with known deficiencies of some
drug-metabolizing enzymes, the third addresses differential consequences or actions
of specific drugs and chemicals, the fourth
examines protein variants that are known
to have, or which may have, pharmacoge-
for instance, would have altered certain passages in the sections on systematics and
hominoid evolution, or at the least called the
reader’s attention to contrary views. Such
caveats should not detract from Russell Tuttle’s accomplishment. He has written a sound
and useful introduction to the behavior, psychology, and ecology of great apes and gibbons. Moreover, despite some occasionally
strained word play, most readers should find
it entertaining reading, no mean accomplishment considering some of the included
material. One of the author’s goals for Apes
of the World was that, like the Yerkes’ volume, it would serve as a source book for biologists and social scientists, “particularly
those who would draw upon knowledge of
apes to model human behavioral evolution.”
He also intended it as a textbook in human
evolution courses that contain substantial
amounts of primatology. It is well suited for
both functions.
NORMAN
CREEL
State University of New York
Stony Brook, New York
LITERATlTRE CITED
Yerkes RM, and Yerkes AW (1929) The Great Apes: A
Study of Anthropoid Life. New Haven, CT. Yale University Press.
netic effects, the fifth considers problems of
methodology, and the sixth section looks at
consequences, not the least important of
which is therapy. Thirty-seven papers plus
the typescript of a panel discussion are presented in the text.
The first section presents the views of a
pharmacologist (Kalow) and a geneticist
(Goedde)on differences in drug response between human populations. In addition, it
contains background information on the genetic relationships among major races, the
effect of nutrition on chemical metabolism
and its impact on individual responses to
drug therapy, and three chapters that deal
with known drug responses in indigenous
Asian, African, and North American populations. Anthropologists would be interested
to learn from Nei and Saitou’s chapter that
the allele for lactase activity [PLA’]beyond
infancy (phenotype = lactose tolerance) is
also present with fairly high frequency in
Macaca fascicularis. Although natural selection has been claimed to favor postinfancy
BOOK REVIEWS
lactose tolerance in most human groups, these
authors are not convinced by the evidence.
They think genetic drift better explains the
variable increases in PLA’ worldwide. They
also dismiss selection as the agent responsible for increased frequencies of MDH-I
(aldehyde dehydrogenase I), the allele that
may cause increased alcohol sensitivity. On
the other hand, Nei and Saitou do think that
the variant alleles at the pseudocholinesterase E, locus are maintained by a balance
between mutation and weak selection. At
minimum, their chapter induces the reader
to reassess common opinions about the role
played by selection in the maintenance of
particular polymorphisms.
Of the 10 chapters in the second section,
the three on variation in ethanol oxidation,
aldehyde oxidation, and acetylation were
particularly interesting. Agarwal and Goedde
present a good review of the known variation
in the rates of ethanol metabolism in different human groups, including American Indians. Goedde and Aganval, in a separate
chapter, note that individuals with ALDH
isozyme I deficiency have higher levels of
acetaldehyde after alcohol ingestion and that
the dysphoric effects of alcohol consumption
are attributable to the elevated levels of
acetaldehyde. They suggest that ALDH-Ideficient individuals learn quickly to abstain
from alcohol and that the risk of alcoholism
may be lower in populations that have a high
frequency of ALDH-I deficiency, while the
reverse would be expected to occur in populations that have a low frequency of ALDHI-deficient individuals. Studies in countries
such as Japan do not support these assertions, however. Goedde and Aganval suggest
that the role played by ALDH isozyme variation in alcoholism could be understood better by studying American Indians, given the
extent of alcohol abuse among them. I agree
that much could be learned, but I think that
such studies would be more meaningful if
ALDH isozyme phenotypes of alcoholic Indians were compared with those of nonalcoholic Indians. In this book all that is
presented is the percentage of ALDH-Ideficient individuals in a handful of samples,
without any information on the health or
disease status of the participants.
Kalow’s contribution on “Caffeine and
Other Drugs” in the third section is an interesting compilation of drug responses worth
investigating in different populations. For
example, his data suggest that the acetyla-
411
tion polymorphism affects the secondary
metabolism of caffeine and that renal reabsorption of caffeine metabolites differs between Caucasians and Orientals. Earlier (in
section 2) Evans also looked at acetylation
by reviewing the association of acetylator
phenotypes and particular disease states.
Evans noted that diabetes mellitus is significantly associated with fast acetylators in
Finland, but that in Saudi Arabia a correlation was demonstrable only between slow
acetylators and type I diabetes! Why there
should be any association at all begs explanation.
Risks of specific diseases to individuals of
particular phenotypes are explored in the six
chapters collected in the fourth section. Cox’s
paper on alpha,-antitrypsin deficiency not
only illustrates how DNA probes can be used
to study the origin of particular mutant genes
but also documents the interaction of biocultural phenomena in producing risk to disease and subsequent mortality. For example,
only 8% of Swedish smokers with alpha,antitrypsin deficiency survive to age 60 years
compared with 60% of nonsmokers with the
same deficiency. Other chapters (e.g., Luzatto’s on G-6PD and drug interactions and
Alvan’s on albumin and orosomucoid) tell
what we have long known, albeit with new
twists, or engender a familiar frustration:
Research to date shows tantalizing possibilities about mechanisms that maintain these
polymorphisms, but the data are generally
inadequate to resolve whether significant
differences in pharmacokinetics or drug
responses are associated with particular
phenotypes.
The consequences of pharmacogenetic variation are well summarized in the three chapters of the sixth section of the book. Evans’
review of “Therapy” is thorough; Omenn’s
paper on “Susceptibility to Occupational and
Environmental Exposures to Chemicals” is
equally absorbing.
The overall value of the text depends on
the background and interests of the reader.
I learned much, but, given the price of the
book, I would be content to do my learning
from a library copy rather than buying my
own. The cost of the text also makes me more
critical of the published product. For example, I found the different typescripts of
the chapters distracting. Typographic errors
abound throughout the book, and several
chapters would have benefitted from thorough editing by a native speaker of English.
412
BOOK REVIEWS
I was put off also at the very start of my drug or to finding that a drug has toxic efreading by one of the editors who noted that fects in particular populations.
“our topic should not be confused with ‘MedThese irritations aside, I think Ethnic Difical Anthropology’ (Landy, 1977) which fea- ferences in Reactions to Drugs and Xenotures the study of witchcraft” (p. 5). Although biotzcs is a very useful compilation of current
the statement may not have been intended knowledge in this area. The contributions
to be pejorative, it is an unsuitable remark are worth reading by anyone interested in
given David Okpako’s excellent chapter en- human genetics and the biomedical side of
titled “The Impact of Traditional African medical anthropology.
Medicine on the Use of Modern Drugs.” AnyEMOKEJ.E. SZATHMARY
Department of Anthropology
one contemplating field research to follow up
McMaster University
on issues discovered in this book (and there
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
are many that could be explored) should read
Okpako’s contribution. Other factors than
LITERATURE CITED
what is encoded in the genes may be reLandy
D
(1977)
Culture,
Disease, and Healing:Studies in
sponsible for lack of response to a particular
Medical Anthropology. New York Macmillan Publishing co.
HUMANGENETICS. PROBLEMS
AND APPROACHES. By F. Vogel and A.G. Motulsky.
New York: Springer-Verlag. 1986. xxxiv
+ 807 pp., figures, tables, appendices, references. $72.00 (cloth).
P. A.: How would you characterize physical anthropology?
H. G.: Bones and the cephalic index. How
do you view human genetics?
P.A.: Birth defects and blood types.
Both the physical anthropologist and the
human geneticist in this imaginary conversation are out of date. The areas of overlap
between the two research areas are large
and growing larger. Unlike most general texts
on human genetics, this book by Vogel and
Motulsky illuminates these overlaps well.
The most important message about this
book is that it is encyclopedic, not in the
sense of detailing information on every human gene or every local population, but rather
in evaluating the many genetic concepts referable to the human species. Such concepts
are the bones (or the brain?) of human genetics. Their usefulness to, and piquancy for,
physical anthropology unfold upon perusal
of the text.
After a chronological review of the growth
of human genetics, including political and
theoretical contretemps, the text discusses
chromosomes, familial transmission genetics, gene action from the molecular to the
environmental level, mutation in all its aspects, population genetics, and human evolution. Many of these themes are repeated
in a large section on human behavior later
on. Medical genetics also receives substantial attention.
From the point of view of anthropology,
the most provocative sections of the book,
outside of that on human evolution, may be
those dealing with the “new” genetics. Of
broad interest are the descriptions of sequencing human DNA and the ongoing construction of human linkage maps, both the
physical (DNA) map and the gene map. All
this current excitement contributes importantly to understanding population history,
because genetic variability at the DNA level
is surprisingly widespread. Moreover, the
types of DNA variability found provide insight into the mechanisms of evolutionary
change (see Section 7.2.3) in the differentiation of human populations, as well as the
differentiation of primate species.
Like other scientific uprisings, the new genetics has fundamentally altered our perception of the nature of the gene. When
geneticists visualize a gene now they see in
their mind’s eye not a Watson-Crick double
helix, but a DNA sequence of exons, introns,
promotors, and other regulatory, flanking
landmarks. The meaning of all this, still only
partly glimpsed, is that human genetics not
only can help to answer old questions in
physical anthropology but also is an entry
to discover new questions that have not been
obvious before. Recently, for example, mi-
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