General physiology and animal physiology

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
This course is aimed at providing the students with a set of knowledge of the physical principles and molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of cell homeostasis. The content of the course and the scientific method with which the various topics are treated provide the means to understand the physiological regulations of tissues and organs with different functions, starting from common mechanisms. This eventually allows the understanding, in an integrated way, of the physiology of the whole animal organism.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student:
- will have acquired solid knowledge of the physical principles that regulate cellular homeostasis, based on quantitative assessments of physiological phenomena.
- will have developed a critical vision that will allow him to apply these basic principles to the more complex functions that regulate the homeostasis of tissues and organs and therefore the homeostasis of the whole animal organism.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
Physiology of the biological membrane
Morpho/functional characteristics of cell membranes.
Functional characteristics of transmembrane exchanges. The cytoplasmic environment
Active and passive transport through the membrane
Chemical and electrical potential across the membrane
Mechanisms of transport for neutral substances, ions, water and organic compounds. Functional integration of electric and chemical messages.
Cellular and molecular physiology of excitable cells
The neuron
The cell action potential
The Hodgkin and Huxley theory
Electrical signal generation and its propagation
Biophysics of ion channels
Metabotropic and ionotropic membrane receptor. The second messenger system
Cell communication: chemical and electrical stimulation
Electric and chemical Synapses
Neuronal signal integration
The modality of communication in the nervous system: the neuronal firing
Functional principles of cellular memory: LTP and LTD The muscle cell: skeletal, smooth and cardiac The skeletal muscle
The neuro-muscular junction
Excitation and contraction coupling
Basic mechanism of muscular contraction
The Huxley hypothesis: the sliding filaments
Biomechanics of the skeletal muscle: isometric and isotonic contractions
The smooth muscle
Cells organization and function
Distribution and function of contractile proteins in the smooth muscle
The peristalsis
The cardiac muscle
The cardiac action potentials
Cardiac cell ionic current
Cellular and molecular basis for cardiac autorhythmicity
The pace maker current If
Modulation of cardiac cell excitability
External signal transduction in sensory cells Physiology of light sensitive cells in the eye Physiology of the auditory system cells
The olfactory system cellular organization
The gustatory system
Touch and pain transducer at the cellular level Processes of reabsorption/secretion in the kidney Organization of the nephron
Glomerular filtration
Reabsorption and tubular secretion mechanisms
It includes a series of experiments using a software that models the cardiac actionpotential. The main parameters of the action potential will be analyzed in physiological conditions and after the application of cardioactive molecules.
Prerequisites for admission
In order to follow the course it is recommended that students have already acquired the credits in the exams of:
Mathematics, Physics and Anatomy.
Teaching methods
The course consists of a series of lectures through projection of slides and explanations on the blackboard and laboratory practise where experiments will be performed which will be discussed together.
Teaching Resources
The PDF files of the presentations made in class will be available on the Ariel website of the course.
Recommended textbook:
Taglietti, Fondamenti di Fisologia generale ed integrata (Edises)..
Other physiology textbooks may be good as well
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written part and an oral test. The written part consists of 20 true/false questions plus 20 multiple choice quiz plus a descriptive question on general topics of the course program. Each correct answer is worth 1 point (the answer not given 0, the wrong answer -0.25 pt). The score of the quiz will constitute the 2/3 of the vote and that of the descriptive question 1/3. Those who have completed the written test with a score of at least 17/30 can take the oral exam that will normally be held in the days following the written test.
BIO/09 - PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours
to be arranged by email
Torre A 6th floor