Integrated Course: Morpho-Functional Sciences
Module Physiology

Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: Venera CARDILE

Expected Learning Outcomes

The course allows the student to acquire the knowledge about the vital functions of man and the cellular mechanisms of the major biological systems. It analyzes the integrated functioning of the different organs and systems of control by which the living organism obtains and maintains the homeostasis inside.

Course Structure

Lectures will be held supported by teaching material.  At the end of the lessons, an oral exam will be scheduled according to the calendar of exam sessions. 

Required Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Anatomy.

Attendance of Lessons


Detailed Course Content

Cell membranes

Exchanges between cells and the environment

Simple diffusion through membranes - Diffusion through channels: channel selectivity, leakage channels ("always" open) and gated channels (equipped with "doors"), water channels (aquaporins) - Mediated transport: membrane carriers, facilitated diffusion, active primary and secondary transport - Water movement across membranes: osmosis - Vesicular transport: phagocytosis, pinocytosis, exocytosis - Exchanges through the epithelia.

Ionic flows and electrical effects

Excitable cells

Characteristics of the action potential: refractoriness, accommodation - Conduction of signals along nerve fibers: velocity, myelination - Electrical membrane properties of pacemaker and non-specific myocardial fibers - Skeletal and smooth muscle fibers: electrical, mechanical and metabolic aspects of contraction - Ca2 + ions in muscle contraction.

Communication between cells

Mechanisms, modulation and control of endocrine communication: hormones, receptors, second messengers - Synaptic communication: electrical and chemical synapses, pre- and post-synaptic mechanisms, neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, space-time summation, plasticity (LTP and LTD) - Neuro synapses -muscular.

Coding of sensory information

Receptor complexes: classifications, definition of stimulus, threshold and receptive field - Transduction and coding mechanisms - Receptor sensitivity - Spinal reflexes.

Control of vegetative functions

Organization of the nervous system

Cardio-circulatory system

Blood: composition, functions, gas transport, hematopoiesis.

Hemodynamics (velocity, pressure, resistance, flow regimes) - Functions of the arteries: elastic properties, arterial pulse - District and systemic control of peripheral resistances - Capillary exchanges - Venous return

Cardiac function: automatism, mechanical and electrical properties, intrinsic and extrinsic regulation.

Ventilation in  terrestrial environments - Mechanical aspects of pulmonary ventilation: dead spaces, respiratory volumes, intrapleural and alveolar pressure, compliance, surface tension - Alveolar-capillary diffusion - Ventilation control: bulb-pontine centers, intrinsic rhythm, chemical and mechanical regulation .

Renal mechanisms: filtration, reabsorption, secretion - Excretion of metabolic waste - Water balance: urine concentration - Volume control, osmolarity and acid-base balance of body solutions.


Digestive system: motility, secretions and absorption - Exocrine pancreas - Role of bile - Nervous and chemical control of gastrointestinal functions.

Textbook Information

D.U. Silverthorn, Fisiologia umana, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana;

Fisiologia medica, a cura di F. Conti - EdiErmes

Fisiologia Medica di Guyton e Hall - Elsevier

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Cell membranes - Exchanges between cells and the environment - Ionic flows and electrical effects - Excitable cellsSilverthorn, Fisiologia umana, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
2Communication between cells - Coding of sensory information - Control of vegetative functionsSilverthorn, Fisiologia umana, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
3Cardio-circulatory system - Ventilation - Regulation of the internal environment - DigestionSilverthorn, Fisiologia umana, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Oral exam.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

1) Electrical and chemical synapses;

2) Membrane potential at rest and action potential;

3) Gas transport in the blood;

4) Ventilation / perfusion;

5) Water absorption and its regulation in the kidney;

6) Muscle contraction, etc.