GENERAL PHYSIOLOGY II
Learning outcomes of the course unit
Objectives with reference to the Dublin parameters:
1) Knowledge and comprehension skills. The students will have to reach a good knowledge of the basic concepts of (i) intercellular chemical communication, (ii) the main mechanisms of the endocrine regulatory function, and (iii) a few specific endocrine functions, as well as the methods used for studying them.
2) Capacity of applying knowledge and comprehension. The students will have to be able to make use of the concepts they have learned in order to (i) design the most appropriate experimental paradigms for human and animal studies, (ii) identify and measure the endocrine parameters that better allow to distinguish between physiological and pathophysiological states.
3) Capacity of independent evaluation. The students will have to develop critical and independent evaluation skills upon the basic concepts of endocrinology and the methods used in the experimental field.
4) Communication skills. The students will have to be able to communicate in a non ambiguous manner the theoretical knowledge, the experimental procedures and the analytical instruments that characterize modern endocrinology.
5) Learning capacity. The students will have to be able to learn experimental approaches and procedures useful for the investigation of normal and pathological endocrine functions, in experimental animals and humans.
Course contents summary
The course is aimed at guiding the students to the comprehension of the basic concepts related to intercellular chemical communication (messengers, receptors, signal transduction pathways). Moreover, its scope is to favour the comprhension of the main mechanisms underlying the hormonal regulation of the organism homeostasis. On this regard, besides the general aspects of the endocrine function such as hormone-receptor interaction, negative feedback, synthesis-storage-secretion-transportation of the hormones, a few examples will be presented of neuroendocrine axes organization (e.g. hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis). Finally, the complex handling exerted by the endocrine system on the body efficiency will be illustrated by showing its adaptive capacity in face of different environmental stress conditions.
Intercellular chemical communication: messengers, receptors, and signal transduction pathways.
The endocrine system: general features.
Posterior pituitary gland: vasopressin and oxytocin
Anterior pituitary gland: growth hormone, prolaction, corticotropin, tireotropin, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (CRH, ACTH, corticosteroids)
Sympathetic-adrenomedullary system and catecholamines
Stress response neuroendocrinology
Ipothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (GnRH, FSH, LH, sexual steroids)
Endocrinology of reproductive function
- Notes from the course (to be found at Libreria Scientifica S. Croce, Parma)
- P.R. Larsen, et al. Williams textbook of Endocrinology. Saunders Co. 2003
During frontal lessons the basic concepts will be discussed, as well as the experimental paradigms and the analytical methods of endocrinology. The course will be integrated with group tasks, consisting in the handling and presentation of experimental data, a bibliographis search and the presentation of scientific articles dealing with the topic of the experimental data, with the aim of facilitating the development of skills in designing, analyzing and presenting a small experimental project.
Assessment methods and criteria
Learning assessment will be performed at the end of the course and will consist of two phases: (i) a written test with two open questions (two thirds of the final mark) and (ii) an oral presentation of the group work on the experimental data and bibliographic search (one third of the final mark). In this way, i twill be possible to verify not just the knowledge and comprehension capacity of the theoretical and practical aspects presented during the course, but also the capacity of making use of the concepts learned (Dublin parameter 2).