Learning outcomes of the course unit
The General Physiology course is predominantly focused on cellular physiology. The main objective of the course is to provide basic knowledge on the functions of eukaryotic cells, in their differentiated and specialized phenotypes, with specific attention to the molecular mechanisms that enable life processes to take place at cellular level. A second objective is to provide the background for understanding some aspects of the integration processes that, in multi-cellular organisms, allow the different types of cells, constitutive elements of tissues and organs, to carry out specific functions in a coordinated way.
- Cell Biology
Course contents summary
The mammalian body is composed of billions of cells, each with a distinct function. Despite this diversity, all cells share certain common elements and functions. The first part of the course provides an overall view of these common elements and focuses on 1) the important function of transport of molecules and water into and out of the cell across its plasma membrane, and 2) intercellular communication. The second part of the course takes into account specific functions of excitable cells, muscle cells (skeletal, smooth and cardiac cells) and neurons.
SECTION I. Elements of cell physiology. Cell membrane, ion transport and trans- membrane potentials, passive and active electrical properties of cell membrane.
SECTION II: Excitable cells: nerve and muscle fibers. Morphology of excitable cells. Ionic basis of excitation and conduction. Molecular and functional properties of ion channels.
SECTION III: Intercellular communication. a) General mechanisms of chemical communication: membrane receptors and signal transduction pathways; b)Chemical synaptic transmission: neurotransmitters, postsynaptic receptors, post-synaptic potentials, synaptic plasticity; c)Electrical synaptic transmission.
SECTION IV. Muscle. Excitation-contraction coupling in the skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle fibers. Molecular mechanisms of contraction.
SECTION V. General properties of sensory receptors, electrical events in sensory receptors, transduction and "coding" of sensory information.
Special senses. Functional properties of sensory receptors in the somatosensory system, visual and auditory and chemical sensory systems (taste and smell).
Basic elements of Integrative physiology.
1. Taglietti V, Casella C: ELEMENTI DI FISIOLOGIA E BIOFISICA DELLA CELLULA. La Goliardica Pavese s.r.l., (2°, 3° e 4° volume)
2. Robert M. Berne e Matthew N. Levy: FISIOLOGIA - Casa Editrice Ambrosiana - (VI edizione 2010)
3. Roney A. Rhoades & David R. Bell: MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins - (third ed. 2009)
The course is carried out through classroom lectures. At the end of each section of the course, students are given self-assessment tests. The final assessment consists of a written test and subsequent oral examination
Assessment methods and criteria
written and oral examination