Book Review: Androgens in Health and Disease

Edited by Carrie J. Bagatell, M.D. and William J. Bremner, M.D., Ph.D.
Totowa, New Jersey, Humana Press, Inc., 448 pages, 2003.

Over the past several decades, significant insight has been gained into the broad effects that androgens exert in many aspects of normal physiology. This book very effectively integrates current reviews of androgens both from the basic science and clinical perspectives. As such, it is appropriate reading for both clinicians and basic scientists.

The book is divided into three sections.
Section I is titled "General Andrology," and the biology of androgens and androgen receptors is thoroughly detailed by prominent authors in the chapters comprising this section. The molecular basis of androgen synthesis, transport, metabolism, and signaling are presented in the first nine chapters. These reviews are comprehensive and provide a state-of-the-art overview of androgen physiology at the molecular level. Chapter three, "Hypogonadism in Men", details etiologic factors leading to primary and secondary hypogonadism as well as the associated clinical manifestations.

Section II is titled "Androgen Effects on Physiological Systems." The accompanying chapters detail the role of androgens in the skeletal system (bone), the coronary vasculature, the hematopoietic system, and cognition. Chapter 13 addresses "Androgens and Body Composition" with a very good discussion of the therapeutic use of testosterone therapy in men afflicted with sarcopenia and men infected with HIV.

Section III is titled "Applied Andrology" and the role of androgens in a variety of clinical settings is detailed. In addition to the chapter"Androgen Treatment of the Hypogonadal Male" individual chapters are dedicated to the treatment of each of the following patient groups: pubertal males, older men, and women. The emerging role of androgens as potential male contraceptive agents is also thoughtfully explored in one chapter. Finally, Chapter 20 provides a good overview of "Androgens as Anabolic Agents." This timely chapter provides a detailed explanation on the clinical impact of testosterone supplementation, with a particularly good discussion of anabolic steroid use/abuse, effects on athletic performance, and laboratory detection methods.

"Androgens in Health and Disease" provides a thorough overview of androgens from both clinical and basic science perspectives. This book is timely, and it would be a useful resource for the clinician and basic scientist alike. While there is some overlap between content in some of the chapters, the book is overall well-organized, comprehensive, and quite enjoyable to read.