Physiology and pharmacology of the endocrine system

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
BIO/09 BIO/14
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to provide an integrated view of the physiology of the endocrine system and of the pharmacological approaches for the treatment and management of endocrine diseases. In addition, this course includes the presentation and discussion of recent scientific articles concerning the physiology and pharmacology of the endocrine system with the aim of informing students about recent discoveries in this area and implementing their critical skills.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have learned the importance of hormonal regulation as a fundamental homeostatic element of the organism and will be able to describe: 1) the main mechanisms related to the processes of hormone secretion and mechanism of action; 2) the main drugs used in the treatment of endocrine diseases. Furthermore, students will be able to implement his critical capacity in relation to the scientific literature concerning possible new physiological roles of hormones and possible new intervention strategies for the development of new drug therapies.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Due to the pandemic health condition associated with COVID-19 the course will be taught online both in synchronous and asynchronous using the "Teams" application.
The program and the reference material will not change
The exam will be written either in presence or online; all the information regarding the organization of the exam, as well as any other updates are provided on the Ariel website of the course
The evaluation criteria will not change and are those reported in the syllabus
Course syllabus
Physiologic functions and components of the endocrine system: hormone mechanism of action and cellular effects. Hormone receptors and signal transduction.
· The hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Regulation of synthesis and secretion of hypothalamus and pituitary hormones and their function. Diseases of anterior pituitary gland. Use and modulation of hypothalamic and pituitary hormones in endocrine diseases (e.g. dwarfism, acromegaly, adrenal insufficiency, hyperprolactinemia) and in specific conditions such as aging or doping
· Thyroid gland. Regulation of biosynthesis and secretion of thyroid hormones, and physiological effects. Diseases of thyroid hormones over and underproduction. Use of thyroid hormones or anti-thyroid drugs in hyper- or hypo-thyroidism.
· Parathyroid Gland and Ca2+ and PO4- homeostasis regulation. Biosynthesis and transport of PTH. Target organs and physiological effects of PTH. Diseases of PTH production. Use of drugs that modulate Ca2+ / PO4 homeostasis and/or bone metabolism.
· Adrenal gland. Regulation of synthesis and secretion of adrenal hormones and their function. Pharmacological use of natural or synthetic steroids an adrenal activity modulating drugs in physiological and pathological conditions.
· Endocrine pancreas. Regulation of synthesis and secretion of pancreatic hormones and their function. Diseases associated with pancreatic hormones. Drugs and hormones for the maintenance of glucose homeostasis.
· Male reproductive system. Gonadotropin regulation of gonadal function. Gonadal function. Physiological effects of androgens at target organs. Diseases associated to dysfunctions of testosterone production. Use of drugs, natural and synthetic hormones in order to modulate hyper- or hypo- male gonadic function.
· Female reproductive system. Gonadotropin regulation of ovarian function; synthesis of ovarian hormones; ovarian and endometrial cycle; physiological effects of ovarian hormones; ageing and the female reproductive system. Use of drugs, natural and synthetic hormones in order to modulate hyper- or hypo- female gonadic function. Use of drugs and hormones that control reproduction.
· Hormonal control of food intake
Prerequisites for admission
Principles of general physiology and pharmacology
Teaching methods
Teaching will be based on interactive frontal lectures supported by projected slides. Students will be actively involved into discussions to elaborate the topics covered during the lectures with a critical point of view, in order to improve their independent thinking and communication skills.
Teaching Resources
Lecture slides, scientific research articles and reviews regarding each lecture topics (uploaded on ARIEL)
Suggested book:
-Molina PE, Endocrine Physiology, McHill
-Williams, Texbook of endocrinology, Sounders
Assessment methods and Criteria
Student knowledge will be assessed with a written essay composed of 4 open questions on the topics covered during the course (1.5 hours). Students will also present and discuss a scientific article in front of their classmates. The overall evaluation of the course will take into account both the written essay and the article presentation. The final mark will be the sum of the written essay (max 28/30) and the article presentation (max 2/30).
If the overall examination appears of excellent level, a "cum Laude" will be added to the final mark.
BIO/09 - PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 48 hours