A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The main objective of the course is to give information on the pharmacological activity of synthetic or natural drugs. Taking into consideration the complexity of botanicals, the course will consider the parts of plant used for the pharmacological activity and their active principles, analyzing in detail the structure-activity relationship and the biosynthetic pathways of active components. Moreover, the course will consider the theoretical basis of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic, considering the main neurotransmitters, acetylcholine, GABA, biogenic amines etc. and the effects of botanicals on these targets.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students are expected to know and understand principles underlying concepts of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic, applying this knowledge to the comprehension of the effects of the active principles from natural or synthetic source and their molecular target. In particular, students will be able to know and understand the main mechanisms of action of drugs, their relationship with the endogenous systems, the aspects which influence variability of active principles in the drug, and factors able to affect safety and/or efficacy (quality of botanicals).
Course syllabus and organization

Linea AK

Lesson period
Course syllabus
Main classes of pharmacological target;
Principle of pharmacodynamic;
Principle of pharmacokinetic;
The principal neurotransmitters: the adrenergic, cholinergic, dopaminergic, serotoninergic, gabaergic, glutamatergic, histaminergic systems. In addition the arachidonic acid system and their drugs;
General pharmacognosy, phitocomplex and the principal natural drugs: alkaloids, phenols, cardiac glycosides, vanilloids, essential oils, laxatives.
Prerequisites for admission
It is suggested to have, at least, attended the course of Biochemistry
Teaching methods
64 oral seminars
Teaching Resources
Clementi, Fumagalli - General an molecular Pharmacology, ed Wiley
Capasso, DePasquale, Grandolini, Mascolo: FARMACOGNOSIA (2° ediz.)
Ed Springer 2010
Slide provided by the teacher in digital format on the ARIEL web site
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will consist of two parts: first part a multiple choice theory test consisting of fifteen questions. Test is considered passed with a minimum of ten corrected answers.
Second part is an oral exam with 30/30 vote
BIO/15 - PHARMACEUTICAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 8
Lessons: 64 hours
Professor: Rovati Gianenrico

Linea LZ

Lesson period
Course syllabus
General Pharmacognosy
Introduction to Pharmacognosy, interactions with other disciplines (Phytochemistry, plant biology, pharmacology, Phytotherapy, etc.). The concepts of "crude drug" and "active principle" in Pharmacognosy. Differences between organized and unorganized crude drugs. The concept of "phytocomplex", and interactions among different components occurring in the phytocomplex. Factors which may influence the variability of phytocomplex.
Basic concepts for extraction of active compounds by plant material. The criteria and requisites of medicinal plants: quality, safety, and efficacy. Purity and degradation of extracts or crude drugs.
Identification of medicinal plants: microscopic, macroscopic evaluations and examples.
Stomatal index as diagnostic method for plant identification. Foreign parts in the crude drugs. Sophistication, adulteration, falsification, alteration of plant material: definition and examples.
Safety of medicinal plants: risk, toxicity and adverse reactions. The presence of potential toxic compounds in plants: essential oils, furanocoumarins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids etc. Contaminations (microbial contaminations, parasites, fungi, radiations etc.) and limits from Pharmacopeia. Factors influencing the content of active principles in plants: natural or artificial factors. Exogenous natural factors (climatic conditions, environment etc.) or endogenous (age, growth, genetic factors, chemotypes, polyploidy etc.). Artificial factors: cultivation, harvest, storage, deterioration. Sterilization, freeze-drying, drying, stabilization. Methods from Pharmacopeia to assess the quality of crude drugs. The main classes of active principles in plants: alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, terpenes (essential oils), gums, mucilage and lignans.

General concepts of Pharmacology
Absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination (ADME) definitions. Bioavailability and mode of administration of drugs. Agonists and antagonists. Pharmacological targets. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions. Factors influencing the different phases of ADME.

Applied Pharmacognosy
Gabaergic neurotransmission. Crude drugs acting on gabaergic neurotransmission and medicinal plants which induce sleep: valerian (Valeriana officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Serotonin, catecholamines and their neurotransmission. Dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline. Medicinal plants acting on serotonin neurotransmission: St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). Crude drugs and active principles acting on dopamine neurotransmission: coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) and cocaine, plants containing L-dopa: fava bean and velvet bean (Vicia faba, Mucuna pruriens). Crude drugs and cognitive impairment: bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), rose root (Rhodiola rosea). Acetylcholine, muscarinic and nicotinic receptors and plant extracts acting on these receptors. Antimuscarinic: belladonna, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), jimson weed (Datura stramonium); muscarinic plants: Betel tree (Areca catechu), Jaborandi (Pilocarpus jaborandi). Antagonist of nicotinic receptors: curari. Agonists of nicotinic receptors: tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata). Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: Calabar bean (Physostigma venenosum). Caffeine: farmacokinetic, mode of action and natural sources. Plants containing xanthines and methylxanthines: coffee plant (Coffea arabica), tea plant (Camellia sinensis syn. Thea sinensis), guarana (Paullinia cupana), yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), Cola (Cola spp.), cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao).
Plants acting in the urogenital tract infections: blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis idaea). Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) against infections: active components and mode of action. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and arbutin. Medicinal plant with actions in the gastrointestinal tract: eupeptic effect of gentiana (Gentiana lutea), European centaury (Centaurium erythraea), bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), cinchona plants (Cinchona spp.), Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica).
Gastric inflammations (gastritis and ulcer). Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) effects on Helicobacter pylori growth and adhesion. Intestinal inflammations, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Anthraquinones and laxative effects. Plants containing anthraquinones: Senna (Cassia angustifolia)
Plant extracts used for intestinal inflammations: Aloe, Wormwood, Andrographis, Indian Frankincense (Boswellia serrata), active components and actions. Mild laxatives, gums and mucilage (Plantago ovata, Linum usitatissimum). Glucomannan (Amorphophallus konjak), manna ash (Fraxinus spp.). Anti-diarrhoea: tannins. Anthelmintic plants. Medicinal plants used for nausea: ginger (Gingiber officinale). Plants used against hemorrhoids: horse chestnut (Aesculus ippocastanum), butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus), red vine (Vitis vinifera cv. Tenturiers). Immunostimulants: ginseng (Panax ginseng), active components and possible adverse effects. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea radix and herba, Echinacea pallida radix), composition and uses. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Schizandra (Schizandra chinensis). Plants used to treat cardiovascular diseases: Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), active components and mechanism of action. Hispid strophantus (Strophantus hispidus),
Sea squill/red squill (Urginea maritima). Plants containing cardioactive glycosides: Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), Oleander (Nerium oleander). Plants without cardioactive glycosides: common hawthorn (Crataegus spp.). Antiplatelets: Garlic (Allium sativum) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Antitumor: neoplasia, Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), podophyllotoxin and semi-synthetic derivatives. Vinca alkaloids and Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), vincristine and vinblastine; (Taxus spp.), taxol and mode of action. New antitumorals from natural origin.
Prerequisites for admission
Students must finalize the exams of Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Animal Biology and Plant Biology (as reported in Manifesto degli Studi).
Teaching methods
During the course, besides the use of slides and ppt. for the conventional lessons, teacher will organize to visit Museo Orto Botanico di Brera, which is located in the centre of Milan. The museum contains a variety of medicinal and officinal plants. In this way, students will be able to see plants and investigate morphology and the part of plants used for medicinal purpose. Parts of plants studied in the second part of the course will be seen by students at lessons, when available in the Lab of Pharmacognosy.
Teaching Resources
Books which may be consulted by students:
Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy: pharmacological basis and applications. G. Mazzanti, M. Dell'Agli, AA. Izzo. Piccin, 2020.
Pharmacognosy: Francesco Capasso. Farmacognosia: botanica, chimica e farmacologia delle piante medicinali. Editor: Springer 2011.
Pharmacology: Rang & Dale, Farmacologia, VIII Edizione, Editrice EDRA-Masson. Clementi, Fumagalli. Farmacologia generale e molecolare. Edizioni UTET. Michelle Clark, Richard Finkel etc. Le basi della Farmacologia. Editor: Zanichelli.

Accessing to the following Ariel site, it's possible to download all the material used for lessons, including all the slides used during the course:
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test and a brief conversation. Written test: six questions with three open (max. seven points) and three with multiple choice (just one is correct, 3 points for each right answer, 0 points for wrong answer). Time for written test: 60 minutes. Brief conversation (around 20 minutes) will be after written test; the aim is to examine in depth preparation of the candidate including knowledge acquired and ability of presentation. The examination grade is expressed in thirtieths.
BIO/15 - PHARMACEUTICAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 8
Lessons: 64 hours
Professor: Dell'Agli Mario
Educational website(s)
Please contact via email to arrange a meeting
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences