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Pathology of the cell. By G. R. Cameron. 1951. xv + 840 pages 64 plates and 41 text figures. $22.50. Charles C Thomas Publisher Springfield Illinois

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PATHOLOGY O F T H E CELL. By G. R.Cameron. 1951. xv
pages, 64 plates and 41 text figures. $22.50. Charles C Thomas,
Publisher, Springfield, Illinois.
The author of this ambitious and provocative book is Director of
the Graham Research Laboratories and Professor of Morbid Anatomy
in the University of London. I n this book he lists, apparently quite
modestly, one publication in the Annals of Medical History and 12
in the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, of which he is a n
Editor, mostly concerned with experimental pathology.
I n his preface he comments that his first plan was a modest one,
but that 5 years of quiet evenings brought about by the war conditions
of the early 1940’s in the little Wiltshire village of Winterslow,
famous for its association with William IIazlitt and his friends Charles
and Mary Lamb, encouraged him to undertake a more serious enquiry into the foundations of cellular theory. It is indeed a serious
even rigorous undertaking to fill 647 pages with carefully documented
material and the author is to be commended for his hardihood arid
congratulated on the result of his effort.
Of the 4 parts of the book, the first is concerned with the normal
cell and covers 138 pages. It is quite natural that a loyal pathologist
should carry the origin of concepts leading to the cell theory back
to the De Sedibus of Morgagni (1761), with its neat codification of
function in terms of structure. It was too much to hope, however,
that any progress would be made toward breaking up the catchy
euphony of Schleiden and Schwann. Perhaps this is inevitable when
the author takes some of his opinions admittedly (by the use o f
brackets and parentheses) from certain recent superficial commentaries. He states quite clearly that Dutrochet, Meyen, and others
knew and described cells, and points out that Schwann’s errors are
largely due to Schleiden. It seems quite simple. Schwann was struck
by the idea that plants and animals are composed of cells. Schleideri
was a botanist and friend of his ; what could be more natural, therefore, than to turn to him as a source of information? The generous
consequence was that he included Schleiden in his project, but this
does not make it necessary for everyone thereafter to accept his
prejudiced point of view. It should be known as Schwann’s cell
theory, but of course this simple linguistic exercise does not stir the
memory as does the tongue-twisting Schleiden and Schwann.
Cameron gktlh a, detailed summary of Schwaan’s htatcnieiit, siiice
his Microscopical Researches and Rudolf I’irchow ’s ( ‘ellularpathologie are the keys to cellular theory. I t is wlnable to h a w this
capable suniniary with reproductions of some of Schn an11’s drawings
and his portrait. I t is disappointing that one of the great fundamental
contributions to cellnlar function, perhap.; the first attempt a t experimental cytology is overlooked, namely Dutrochet ’s 1928 pamphlet
“ Nonvelles Reeherches sur 1’Endosmose et l’Exosmost>.
Thr. two
words endosmosis arid exosmosis are found together later in the hook
as part of the siimniary of Virchow’s classic in this sentence, presumably giving Virchow’s ideas and intcrprctation%, “The capillary
wall acts as an indifferent membrane between two flnids froni which
diffusion (endosmosis arid exosmosis) goes on. ” Ikcause of t h r parenthesis, one wonders whether the inclusion of these two words wa\ by
I‘irchow or Cameron.
The history of the cell theory is presented by following separately
the chronological development of various aspects and coiicepts such
as the functions of cells, and the nucleus and its dyriaiiiic role. a n d
a usefully complete story is given, inel~idingan account of thP “ymplastic” state arid other opposing theories. The account of the discovery of mitosis is disappointing in comparison 1% ith some othcr
topics. Chapter 6 is an interesting discussion of teleology wit11 due
notice of its great proponents, Aristotle and Galen. I t is iinpleasaiit
to find Galen described as a “ltoman physician” but this may bc ii
device for placing him in the Roman period of time, and one wonders
who the “ Scholists” were whose representative was Thomas Aquiiias.
The teleology of Paracelsus with its control of physiological processes
by archei gives a hint t h a t the latter’s einpiricism was colored by
a knowledge of the writings of Galen. The discussion is brought into
recent times and reveals to some extent the author’s special interests.
The rest of P a r t I dealing with the normal cell. almost a hundred
pages, gires a fairly complete summary in chapters, of the worlr 011
morphology of the normal cell ; protoplasm ; the cell membrane and
snrface ; cell permeability ; micrnrgy, tissue culture and phase-coiitrast
microscopy ; the life of the cell : cell division, cell growth, ageing ; a n d
cell funetioii. Because of the length of time which has elapsed since
the pnblication of the book (and t h e reviewer apologizm for thr
delay) one misses the recent contributions of electron niicroscopj .
cytoeheniistrp, the study of e~izymes,and niaiiy other surging coiltributions. Mention of Raynioiid Parker’s excellent book 011 tissue
eiilturtl is coiispicuous by its absence.
P a r t 11, 444 pages dealing with the abnoriiial cell, begins u i t h a
summary of John Goodsir’s Anatomical and Pathological Observatioils showing that his contrihiition to cellular pathology consists i l l
a clear recognition of the relationship between cells and nutrition,
the function of cells and their structure, and the part played by
certain cells in dominating regions and departments. A rather complete abstract of the Cellularpathologie is given and a detailed slimmary of Virchow’s contribution to the cellular theory of disease hut
more specific comment on this epoch-making work will be omitted
because of the anatomical bias of this journal and the reviewer. The
expansion of the cellular theory of pathology leads into a discussion
of its relationship to bacteria and the response of cells to the latter
or their toxic products. The contributions and ideas of Metchnilroff
are summarized, bringing out the importaiice of phagocytosis, chemotoxis, and immunization. “The vast amount of work done on the
reticulo-endothelial system” has been digested (and here the reviewer
is struck with awe a t the potency of the author’s enzymes), and its
established functions a n d questionable properties impartially presented with a hopeful note a t the e n d : “Obviously the question is
complicated, and a final decision cannot be reached a t the moment.’’
Special contributions to knowledge resulting from the cell theory
are pointed out i n the successes of hematology and the neuroiie theory.
There follow extensive considerations, in chapters, of the effect on
isolated cells and unicellular organisms of injuries of all kinds. Tissue
cells are given detailed consideration in 9 chapters, 240 pages, in what
could conceivably be a text i n pathology. The last two chapters i n
this part are concerned with the tumor cell and the pathology of the
plant cell.
P a r t 111, 24 pages, contains a critical discussion of the cell theory.
Although the latter has had powerful support from many directions,
there are still gaps, and advocates of a broader outlook have held t o
a n organismic theory based on the view that vital phenomena are
essentially interrelated. It emphasizes function, especially correlation,
and devotes little attention to structnre. The differences cannot be
resolved without further knowledge.
Criticism of the cell theory has come from 4 main fields: (1) Embryology : A quotation from Whitman (1893) gives the direction of
this attack “comparative embryology reminds us a t every t u r n that
the organism dominates cell-formation, using for the same purpose
one, several, o r many cells, massing its material and directing its
movements and shaping its organs, as if cells did not exist, or as if
they existed only in complete subordination to its will, if I may so
speaK. . . . The fact t h a t physiological unity is not broken by cellboundaries is confirmed i n so many ways that it must be accepted
as one of the fundamental t r u t h s of biology. ” Much support is given
to this by the experiments of Lillie, Conklin a n d Spemann but the
author believes a compromise is the correct answer. ( 2 ) Morphology :
A4ccordingto these critics the cells do not make the organism but the
organism thr cells. The control of this organization, however, eludes
observation. X a n y protozoologists and bacteriologists h a r e felt that
the forms they study are not single cells. Organisms are either cellular
or non-cellular. All protozoa have a t least a brief existence in the
multicellular state ; the malarial parasite is a familiar example. Again
we must compromise because both protoplasmic separation and protoplasmic continuity have been amply described and either condition
can change into the other. ( 3 ) Function: Despite a n underlying
basis of cellular function there is the ever-recurring theme of coordination, whether through the nervous system, hormones, or other
influences. ( 4 ) Pathology : Perhaps the greatest achievemrnts of
the cell theory have been i n pathology but there is still a hiatus between our understanding of abnormal cells and the pathology of thp
organism. Some of the alternatives to the classical cellular theory
of pathology may be noticed: (1) the dominance of the nervous
system, Riclrer 's idea, ( 2 ) the vital character of intercellular substance, Heidenhain and IIueck, ( 3 ) the molecular pathology of
Schode, and ( 4 ) the fields of influence. The author gives n o references
for the latter but we imagine he would be interested in such work
as that of II. S. Burr. The subject could well have been expanded.
P a r t IV, 32 pages, takes us into the cellular pathology of the
future. Consideration is given to the various methods of inr-estigating submicroscopic structnrr and the theories based upon recent
methods and refinements. Much stress is given to physics and chemistry, especially with throwing off the fetters of morphology, but the
reviewer still has hopes for morphology and looks forward particularly
to the revealing of secrets by the electron microscope and he is continually reminded that t h e biochemists would be quite helpless without
their structural formulae.
The book has a bibliography of 126 pages with a n approximate
total of 5,670 references. The index covers 63 pages, broken into
subject and author sections. There is not a profusion of illustrations,
but most important points are illustrated, and one finds some good
portraits in the historical section a n d many original photomicrographs
in the parts dealing with pathology. The book is well made, printed
o n good paper and contains very few typographical errors.
Although the book is written by a pathologist for pathologists, many
others will find it interesting and valuable. It should be read by every
serious histologist and cytologist, if only to stir up his spirit of dispute,
and it should be useful as a reference in these fields as well as i n
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figuren, pathologic, charles, 840, cameron, page, text, cells, springfield, 1951, thomas, illinois, plates, publisher
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