Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: Giampiero LEANZA

Expected Learning Outcomes

Knowledge of organism function, from basic molecular mechanisms to the function of cells and whole organs, as well as organ functional integration in complex beings. Full knowledge of all the subjects included in the program below. Ability to analyze and synthesize subjects, understanding mechanisms in details and subsequently summarizing functional finalities. Ability to expose subjects clearly and extensively. Understanding that a full knowledge of Physiology subjects is essential to exert a profession in pharmaceutical and medical fields.

Having participated to Physiology classes, students will achieve knowledge on the mechanisms governing the functioning of the various apparatuses of the body, also acquiring advanced notions of anatomical organization and physiopathology.

Course Structure


PLEASE NOTE: The recent COVID-19 emergency has imposed the adoption of remote teaching and examination. As the emergency is unfortunately still on, remote teaching and examination is to be carried out in the coming months, therefore some changes may occur in order to closely adhere to the program outlined in the syllabus

Required Prerequisites

Basic knowledge in Physics, Chemistry, Anatomy, Biochemistry is required

Attendance of Lessons


Detailed Course Content

  1. The organization of living beings. Structure of the human body: composition and fluid distribution.
  2. Exchanges between intra- and extracellular compartments. The plasma membrane: composition, structure and selective permeability.
  3. Transports across the plasma membrane. Diffusion. Osmosis. Cell membrane transport proteins. Active transport of substances through membranes.
  4. Membrane ion channels. Active and passive ion channels.
  5. Membrane potentials. Passive properties of cell membrane. The neuron. Action potentials: genesis and propagation.
  6. Transmission of signals between excitable cells. Synaptic transmission. Electrical synapses: gap junctions. Chemical synapses: morphology and general properties. The neuromuscular junction. Neuronal synapses. Origin of post-synaptic potentials: neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and their receptors. Pre- and post-synaptic modulation of post-synaptic potentials. Synaptic integration processes: temporal summation and space summation of post-synaptic potentials.
  7. Skeletal muscle physiology. Resting potential and action potential in skeletal muscle fibers. Molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. Role of calcium in muscle contraction. Excitation-contraction coupling. Characteristics of whole-muscle contraction. Isotonic and isometric modes of contraction.
  8. Smooth muscle structure and function. Resting and action potential in smooth muscle cells. Molecular mechanisms of smooth muscle contraction. Nervous and hormonal control of smooth muscle contraction.
  9. Cardiac muscle physiology. Resting potential and action potential in pacemakes cells and in cardiomyocytes. Molecular mechanisms of cardiac muscle contraction.
  10. Organization of the nervous system: central and peripheral structures.
  11. Sensory function of the nervous system. Somatic sensations: general organization. Sensory receptors. Transmission of somatosensory impulses to the central nervous system.
  12. The tactile and position senses. Pain and thermal sensations.
  13. The chemical senses: taste and smell.
  14. The sense of hearing. Inner ear receptors. Central auditory mechanisms.
  15. The sense of vision. The eye: optics of vision. Receptor and neural function of the retina. Central neurophysiology of vision.
  16. The organization of voluntary movement: cortical and brainstem control of motor function. Motor cortex, supplementary areas, cerebellum, basal ganglia, spinal cord. Vestibular sensations and maintenance of equilibrium. Disturbances of voluntary movements: Parkinson's disease
  17. Reflex responses: general properties. Spinal reflexes.
  18. Higher functions of the brain, learning and memory. Cerebral cortex. The hippocampus. Pathological memory loss: Alzheimer's disease
  19. Behavioural and motivational mechanisms in the brain: the limbic system and the hypothalamus.
  20. States of brain activity. The sleep-wake cycle. Epilepsy. Psychoses.
  21. The autonomic nervous system and the adrenal medulla: general organization. Basic characteristics of sympathetic and parasympathetic function. Autonomic reflexes.
  22. The endocrine system. Hormones: structure, function, mechanisms of action. Regulation of hormone secretion.
  23. Pituitary hormones and their control by the hypothalamus.
  24. Insulin, glucagon and diabetes mellitus.
  25. Adrenocortical hormones.
  26. Thyroid metabolic hormones.
  27. Parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, vitamin D: role in calcium and phosphate metabolism.
  28. The cardiovascular system: anatomy and general properties.
  29. Blood: composition and functions.
  30. The heart as a pump: anatomy and function. Structure of cardiac valves. Excitatory and conductive system of the heart. Control of excitation and conduction. Cardiac cycle. Electrocardiogram.
  31. Overview of the circulation. Biophysics of pressure, flow and resistance. Structure and function of blood vessels: arteries, veins and capillaries. Local and humoral control of tissue blood flow. Regulation of blood pressure.
  32. The microcirculation and lymphatic system: capillary fluid exchange, interstitial fluid and lymph flow.
  33. Homeostasis of volume and osmolarity of extracellular and intracellular fluids. The kidney and urinary system. Glomerular filtration, renal blood flow and their control. Tubular reabsorption and secretion processes. Role of the kidney in the regulation of body fluids and electrolytes. Role of the kidney in long-term regulation of blood pressure.
  34. Acid-base regulation.
  35. The respiratory system. Pulmonary ventilation. Pulmonary circulation. Physical principles of gas exchange. Transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood and tissue fluids. Regulation of respiration.
  36. Digestive system: anatomy and functional organization. Neural control of motility and secretion. Gastrointestinal blood circulation. Mechanical and chemical processes of digestion. Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Structure and function of the liver.
  37. Energy metabolism. Dietary balance and regulation of feeding.
  38. Body temperature regulation and fever.

Textbook Information

Carbone, Aicardi, Maggi - FISIOLOGIA  EdiSES 

Silverthorn - FISIOLOGIA  Pearson Italia 

Stanfield - FISIOLOGIA  EdiSES 



Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Tutti gli argomenti indicati nel programmaGli argomenti sono trattati nei testi proposti

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Oral exam. The students' ability for logical discussion, upon teacher's queries, will be primarily evaluated 

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

During the exam, teacher's queries will reflect all topics listed in the study program, with no preference. Students' ability for logical thinking and capacity to find links between physiological events will be primarily evaluated