General Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course is structured in two modules: General Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy.
The main objective of the general Pharmacology module is to learn the bases necessary to understand the activity of the drugs, both of natural or synthetic origin. The course is intended to provide the student the bases of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics while taking into account the most important neurotransmitters and their systems, from biogenic amines, to acetylcholine, from GABA to excitatory aminoacids and the arachidonic acid system.
The Pharmacognosy module will provide the student the basic knowledge about pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic of natural or synthetic biologically active molecules, with emphasis on how these processes will affect pharmacological activities of active compounds and their final therapeutic effects. This module will also explore more in detail pharmacologically active preparations from natural sources (with special emphasis on the preparations present in the European Pharmacopoeia), their active components and therapeutic applications
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the General Pharmacology module, the student should be familiar with the endogenous targets of the drugs (receptors, enzymes, pumps and transporters, ionic channels) and their relationship with the endogenous systems, such as sympathetic, parasympathetic, dopaminergic, serotoninergic, histaminergic, GABAergic, excitatory aminoacids as well as arachidonic acid system. In addition, students should have enough pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics notions to understand the function of active substances, both of natural or synthetic origin.For the Pharmacognosy module is expected that the student will acquire: knowledge of the mechanisms responsible for the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of pharmacologically active molecules, either natural or synthetic; knowledge of the main pharmacokinetic parameters; knowledge of the main classes of pharmacological targets, with a specific focus on membrane and intracellular receptors; ability to evaluate the behavior of a pharmacologically active compound based on its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics; knowledge of the pharmacologically active compounds and therapeutic activities of medicinal drugs/botanicals belonging to different chemical or therapeutic classes; ability to identify potential pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions between drugs or botanicals/drugs.
Course syllabus and organization

Linea AL

Lesson period
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Prerequisites for admission
Subjects taught in propedeutic courses, as indicated in the Manifesto of the course, are considered important prerequisites.
Assessment methods and Criteria
For the module of general pharmacology, the examination will consist of a written test covering all the topics of the course. The test will be based on 22 multiple-choice questions. Each question will give 1,5 points if the answer is correct, -0,75 if the answer is wrong and 0 points if left without an answer. The module of general pharmacology will be passed with a minimum score of 18. During the academic year, there will be 8 tests.

For the Pharmacognosy module, the examination consists of an oral test aimed at verifying the Knowledge of the subject; the ability to reason as well as the Communication skills. The duration of the test will be approximately 30-40 minutes.
The score, expressed in thirtieth, will be the weighted mean of the evaluation of the two courses: General Pharmacology (4 CFU) and Pharmacognosy (6 CFU).
General Pharmacology
Course syllabus
History of pharmacology. General mechanisms of drug action and routes of administration.
Principles of pharmacokinetics: absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of drugs; drug interactions.
Pharmacodynamics: molecular targets of drugs.
Definition of receptor; methodology to investigate receptors. Drug-response curves, potency, efficacy. Definition of agonist, partial agonist, antagonist, and inverse agonist. Drug-receptor interaction theories.
Receptor subtypes: receptor-operated channels, G protein-coupled receptors, tyrosine kinase receptors, cytokine receptors, cytosolic receptors. Signal transduction: second and third messengers.
Neurotransmitter pharmacology: cholinergic system, adrenergic system, dopaminergic system, serotonergic system, histaminergic system, purinergic system, GABAergic system, and glutamatergic system.
Ion channels and their pharmacological modulation; immune system, inflammation, and arachidonic acid cascade.
Drugs active of gene transcription and epigenetic mechanisms.
Adaptive mechanisms in drug response.
Preclinical research band drug development.
Teaching methods
The course will unfold through frontal lessons and the teaching materials will be made available through ARIEL.
Teaching Resources
Clementi F., Fumagalli G Farmacologia generale e molecolare - V Edizione - EDRA
Goodman and Gilman's the Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13th Edition Laurence Brunton and Randa Hilal Dandan , McGraw-Hill Education.
Course syllabus
Introduction to Pharmacognosy. Historical notes of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy. The concepts of drugs and active principles. Organized and unorganized drugs: differences. The concept of phytocomplex. Interactions between the components of the phytocomplex. Characteristics that may influence variability of the phytocomplex. How to obtain a phytocomplex: basic concepts on extraction from plant matrix. Criteria and requirements of a drug/medicinal plant: macroscopic and microscopic characteristics, some examples. Stomatic index as a diagnostic element for drug recognition. The foreign elements of a drug. Sophistications, adulteration, falsification, alteration: definitions and examples. The drug safety: risk, toxicity and possible adverse reactions. The presence of potential toxic components in plant: pyrrolizidinic alkaloids, essential oils, furanocoumarins, etc. Contaminations (microbes, pesticides, parasites, radiations, etc.). Limits from European Pharmacopoeia. Factors influencing the content of active principles. Natural and artificial factors. Exogenous (climatic and environmental conditions) or endogenous factors (age or stage of development, genetic factors, polyploidy, chemotypes). Artificial factors: cultivation, harvesting, storage and deterioration. Sterilization, freeze-drying and stabilization. Pharmacopoeia methods to measure the quality of a drug. Basic knowledge of the main classes of active ingredients form plants: alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, terpenes (including essential oils), gums, mucilage, lignans. Medicinal plants acting on gabaergic neurotransmission, and drugs that induce sleep: valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Hops (Humulus lupulus), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Drugs acting on serotoninergic receptors: Hypericum perforatum. Saffron and lavender.
Plants acting on dopaminergic receptors: Erythroxylon coca and cocaine. Plants containing L-dopa (Vicia faba, Mucuna pruriens). Drugs useful in brain dysfunctions: bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea). Drugs acting on muscarinic or nicotinic receptors: belladonna (Atropa belladonna), Hyoscyamus niger, stramonium (Datura stramonium), Betel palm (Areca catechu), Jaborandi (Pilocarpus jaborandi), curare, Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), Lobelia (Lobelia inflata). Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Calabar bean (Physotigma venenosum). Caffeine: pharmacokinetics, mechanism of action and natural sources. Plants containing xanthines: coffee (Coffea arabica), tea (Camellia sinensis), guaranà (Paullinia cupana), matè (Ilex paraguariensis), Cola (Cola spp.), cocoa (Theobroma cacao). Plants acting on the urinary tract infections: Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), Blackberry, and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi). Drugs against gastrointestinal disorders. Eupeptic and bitter: gentian (Gentiana lutea), Centaurium erythraea, bitter orange (Citrus x aurantium), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), cinchona (Cinchona spp.), Cetraria islandica. Gastritis and gastric ulcer. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and anti-Helicobacter pylori effect. Gut inflammatory diseases. Antraquinones as laxative agents, source and mechanism of action: Cassia angustifolia, Rhubarb, Rhamnus spp. Drugs against intestinal inflammation: Aloe, Artemisia, Andrographis and Boswellia. Mass laxatives, gums and mucilage. Plantago spp. and Linum usitatissimum. Glucomannan. Manna. Anthelmintics and some examples. Tannins as antidiarrhoeic agents. Drugs against nausea: ginger (Gingiber officinale). Plants against hemorrhoids: horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), rusco (Ruscus aculeatus), Vitis vinifera. Drugs with immunomodulatory activity: ginseng (Panax ginseng), mechanism of action and potential adverse effects. Eleutherococcus (Eleutherococcus senticosus), composition and activity. Echinacea spp (purpurea/pallida). Schizandra chinensis and Astragalus membranaceous. Drugs useful for the cardiovascular system: cardioactive glycosides, Digitale (Digitalis purpurea), active ingredients and mechanism of action. Strophantus hispidus, Urginea maritima, other plants containing cardioactive glycosides. Crataegus spp. Drugs against obesity and dyslipidemia. Antiplatelet drugs (Garlic, Ginkgo). Plants as antitumor drugs: Podophyllum peltatum, vinca alkaloids (vincristine and vinblastine), Taxus spp. and taxol: mechanism of action and biological activity. Phytoestrogens and use in menopause. Soia (Glicine max), Trifolium pratense. Cimicifuga racemosa and Vitex agnus-castus.
Teaching methods
During the teaching, in addition to the classic frontal lessons through the use of slides, a visit to the Botanical Garden Museum of Brera (Milan) will be organized. The museum contains a variety of medicinal and officinal plants. In this way, students will be able to view and study in detail the morphology and the drug of the medicinal plants occurring in the garden. When available, parts of plants studied during the teaching will be brought to the lessons (or shown on video lessons), to make the recognition of the drugs more effective.
Teaching Resources
Books which may be consulted by students:
Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy: pharmacological basis and applications. G. Mazzanti, M. Dell'Agli, AA. Izzo. Piccin Editor, 2020.
Capasso F., Grandolini G. Izzo A. Fitoterapia. Springer, Milano.
On the teacher's Ariel site, you can download all the slides used for lessons.
General Pharmacology
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 4
Lessons: 32 hours
Professor: Riva Marco Andrea
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Dell'Agli Mario

Linea MZ

Lesson period
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021-2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Prerequisites for admission
Subjects taught in the following preparatory courses are mandatory:
Animal Biology
Plant Biology and Pharmaceutical botany
Human Anatomy
Assessment methods and Criteria
Two separate examinations will be organized for the two modules. The final mark will be the weighted average of the two marks.
A positive evaluation in the examination of the module of General Pharmacology is mandatory to sustain the examination of the module of Pharmacognosy, and the latter must be passed within 1 calendar year from the former.

Module of General Pharmacology
A written multiple choice questionary consisting of 15 questions (correct answer: +1 point; wrong answer: -0.5 point; no answer given: 0 point) will be utilized

Module of Pharmacognosy
The examination will consist of an oral examination consisting of a 20-minutes colloquium; basic knowledge from the module of General Pharmacology will be fundamental for a positive outcome.
General Pharmacology
Course syllabus
The main objective of the part of General Pharmacology within this course is to learn the bases necessary to understand the activity of the drugs, both of natural or synthetic origin. The course is intended to provide the student the bases of pharmacodynamics while taking into account the most important neurotransmitters and their systems.

· Introduction to Pharmacodynamics
· Sites of drug action; definition of receptor
· Binding to equilibrium
· Binding Kinetics
· Dose-response Curves
· Agonists, antagonists, partial agonists
· Inverse/Allosteric Agonists
· Characteristics of Drug-receptor interaction
· Receptor Classification
· Orthosympathetic System
· Drugs acting on the Orthosympathetic System
· Parasympathetic System
· Drugs acting on the Parasympathetic System
· Dopaminergic System
· Serotoninergic System
· Histaminergic System
· Excitatory Aminoacids
· Arachidonic Acid
Teaching methods
This module will consist of seminars (32 hours)
Teaching Resources
· Slides provided by the teacher through the ARIEL website
· Textbook: Farmacologia Generale e molecolare (Clementi e Fumagalli) ed. EDRA
Course syllabus
o Drug Absorption, Distribution and Excretion. Basic pharmacokinetics
o Herbal drug-drug interactions

o Introduction to pharmacognosy: Definition and classification of natural drugs, variability of active principles, secondary metabolism and its physiological function, preservation and analysis of vegetable and animal drugs, quality control, standardization, natural drugs in Pharmacopoeia.
o Alkaloid-based drugs: generalities of alkaloids
o Drugs containing indole alkaloids: Rauwolfia serpentina, Physostigma venenosum, ergot alkaloids, other hallucinogenic indole alkaloids
o Drugs containing tropane alkaloids: Erythroxylum coca, Atropa belladonna, Datura stramonium, Hyosciamus niger
o Drugs containing imidazole alkaloids: Pilocarpus Jaborandi
o Drugs containing isoquinoline and phenanthrenic alkaloids: curares, Papaver somniferum (opium varieties, major opium alkaloids, introduction to central mechanisms of nociception, opioids, opiates and their receptors, clinic and therapeutic use of opiates, abuse and withdrawal syndrome).
o Drugs containing phenylalkylamine alkaloids: Catha edulis, Ephedra sinica, Pejote and San Pedro Cactus, Capsicum (introduction to peripheral transmission of pain and its interference by capsaicin)
o Drugs containing piperidine/pyridine alkaloids: Areca cathecu, Lobelia inflata, Nicotiana tabacum
o Drugs containing quinolinic alkaloids: Cinchona spp., alkaloid content, pharmacological properties of the china components, antimalarial activity (introduction to malaria, plasmodium life cycle, therapy and prevention of malaria) and antiarrhythmic activity.
o Xanthine-based drugs: Coffea spp., Thea spp., Theobroma cacao, Cola acuminata, Ilex paraguensis

o Psychostimulants and hallucinogens: definition of substances with depressing, anxiolytic, stimulatory and hallucinogenic effects on the CNS. Erythroxylum coca, Cannabis sativa. Amanita muscaria, Piptadenia peregrina, Peganum harmala, Psilocybe mexicana, Lophophora williamsii. Psychedelic anaesthetics: ketamine, fenciclydine.
o Natural antidepressants: Hypericum perforatum (characteristics, active components, mechanism of action, therapeutic use)
o Hints on neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer's disease, Ginkgo Biloba, antioxidants (green tea, grapes, Curcuma longa)
o Carbohydrate-based drugs: starch (wheat, corn, rice and potato), cellulose. Acacia senegal, Astragalus gummifer, Sterculia spp, Cyanopsis tetragonolobus (arabic, tragacanth, karaia e guar gum), Malva silvestris, Althea officinalis, Linum usitatissimum, Tilia spp., Aloe spp., vegetable fibers.
o Glycoside-based drugs: Anthraquinone glycosides: Cassia spp., Ramnus spp., Rheum spp., Aloe spp (therapeutic uses, mechanism of action, side effects). Cardioactive glycosides: Digitalis spp., Strophantus spp. (use in congestive cardiac failure, mechanism of action, side effects).
o Lipid-based drugs: simple and complex lipids, fatty acid composition of lipids, features, quality control, nutritional and pharmacological aspects of vegetable oils. Olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, soybean oil, evening primrose oil, castor oil.
o Flavonoid-based drugs: overview and protective roles of antioxidants. Passiflora incarnata, Citrus spp., Ginkgo biloba.
o Phenolic and Salicylate drugs: Ursina grapes, Populus e Salix.
o Solphorate-based drugs: Allium Sativum.
o Drugs acting on the immune system: Introduction to immune function and to factors that depress the immune system, natural immunomodulators and their mechanism of action. Echinacea spp., Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcum, Witania, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Thuja occidentalis, Angelica sinensis, Polygonum multifloreum, Astragalus membranaceus, Picrorhiza kurroa
o Antitumor drugs: incidence and pathogenesis of human cancesr, carcinogenesis and tumor transformation, natural antitumor agents. antibiotics; Vinca spp., Taxus, Phodophyllum peltatum, Camptotheca acuminata, other phytotherapic drugs with antitumor activity (Viscum album, Evening Primerose, sho-saiko-to).
Teaching methods
This module will consist of seminars (48 hours)
Teaching Resources
· Slides provided by the teacher through the ARIEL website
· Farmacognosia. Capasso F, De Pasquale R, Grandolini G, Mascolo N. Springer (ultima edizione)
· Fitoterapia. L'impiego razionale delle droghe vegetali. Capasso F, Grandolini G, Izzo AA. Springer (ultima edizione)
· Trease and Evans' - Pharmacognosy, Edition 16 - Elsevier
· Farmacognosia e Fitoterapia - Basi farmacologiche e aspetti applicativi. Mazzanti G, Dell'Agli M, Izzo AA. Piccin
General Pharmacology
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 4
Lessons: 32 hours
Professor: Rovati Gianenrico
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Please contact via email to arrange a meeting
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences
appointment request through email