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CODE 104206
CREDITS 6 credits during the 1st year of 11158 APPLIED AND EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (LM-6) GENOVA
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The course explores the study of the mechanisms of regulation of metabolic homeostasis in humans, addressing the regulation of the various functions by the nervous system and the endocrine system and highlighting the existing integrations between the various systems. The course explores human nutrition physiology and the importance of proper nutrition for maintaining health, during the different phases of human life and in various physiological states.



The course aims to provide in-depth knowledge on human physiology and particularly on the importance of proper nutrition for maintaining homeostasis, highlighting and enhancing the relationships of connection and interdependence between physiological processes and mechanisms.


Participation in the course will allow students to deepen the knowledge of Physiology learned during the Bachelor's Degree, with specific reference to humans and nutritional needs. This knowledge is necessary for the career opportunities of the biologist, particularly in health and alimentary fields.

The course aims to provide a complete vision of Human Physiology and allows the student to acquire detailed information on how the different organs of the human body work, on the dynamic integration of the organs in systems, on the general mechanisms of homeostatic control under normal conditions and adaptation, with a specific attention to the nutritional and metabolic needs during life course e in different physiological states. The role of food as a signal integrated in the human regulatory network will be highlighted.

 At the end of the course the student must be able to:

• know how the human organism work at the molecular, cellular, organ and system levels.

• Acquire an integrated view of the physiological mechanisms that regulate homeostasis and adaptation processes in humans.

• know how the human organism works as a whole.

• Understanding simple pathophysiological situations resulting from the loss of homeostatic regulation.

• Highlight the link between structure and function at the level of organs and systems.

• Acquire a correct terminology in the pathophysiological field.

  • Know food requirements.

• Know how the organism digests, absorbs and uses macronutrients.

• Know the importance of micronutrients.

• Acquire an integrated view of the processes that regulate human nutrition.

• Understand the importance of proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for maintaining health.

• Acquire a critical view of the many food "fads" that are often spread by the mass media.


Basic knowledge of biochemistry, physiology, genetics and pathology is required to effectively address the teaching content.


The teaching method includes 24 lectures of 2 hours each. Lessons are delivered through multimedia presentations. Frequency is highly recommended.

Please refer to AulaWeb for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


Food and nutrients. Requirements. Basal metabolism. Calorimetry. Energy balance. Energy depots.

Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and alimentary fiber in diet.

Digestion and absorption of proteins. Essential amino acids.

Digestion and absorption of lipids. Cholesterol homeostasis. Plasma lipoproteins.

Endocrine regulation of metabolism. Absorption and post-absorption phases. Hormonal regulation of glucose homeostasis. Glycemic index, glycemic load. Fasting. Caloric and protein restriction. High-protein diets. Ketogenic diet.

Recall of physiology of the nervous system and of the endocrine system. Endocrine system dysfunction: hypofunction, hyperfunction, sensitivity deficit. The hypothalamus-pituitary system. Hypothalamus: structure and functions. Posterior pituitary: structure and functions. Neuroendocrine reflexes. Vasopressin: osmotic regulation, pressure / volume regulation, insipid diabetes. Oxytocin: childbirth and lactation. Anterior pituitary: structure and functions. The pituitary portal system. The hypothalamic releasing  and inhibiting factors. The hormones of the anterior pituitary. Short and long feedback. Prolactin and lactation regulation. Endocrine growth regulation: the GH-IGF-IGFBP system. Hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. Regulation of body temperature.

Stress response: nervous arm and endocrine arm. Effects of catecholamines. Effects of cortisol. Allostasis and allostatic load. Stress and dysmetabolism. Stress, immune system and inflammation. Emotions and stress response. Integration between biological and psychological and social systems (psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology: PNEI). Pre and perinatal stress. The role of the intestinal microbiota.

Neuroendocrine regulation of food intake. Short- and long-term hunger and satiety signals. Hypothalamic centers of hunger and satiety. Relations between stress and eating behavior. Epigenetic metabolism programming. Feeding and inflammation. Gut-brain axis.

Steroidogenesis in the adrenal cortex. Hormonal regulation of ion and water balance. Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Effects of aldosterone. Natriuretic peptides.

Hormonal regulation of the reproductive function. Steroidogenesis in the gonads. Hormonal regulation of sexual differentiation. Hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Testis: Sertoli cells, Leydig cells. Hypotheses on the factors influencing the onset of puberty. Ovary: ovarian cycle, theca cells and granulosa cells. Hormonal contraception. Pregnancy. Menopause. Nutrition requirements for women. Adrenarche and adrenal androgens.

Liver structure. The hepatic lobule. Characteristics of the different cell types of the liver: hepatocytes, sinusoidal endothelial cells, Kupffer cells and stellate cells. Role of the liver in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. The example of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Gut-liver axis. Partial hepatectomy and hepatic regeneration: cascade activation of early and late events.

Hormonal regulation of calcium homeostasis. Regulation of intracellular calcium concentration. Parathormone: effects on bone and  kidney. Vitamin D: biosynthesis and introduction with diet, effects on intestine, bone, immune system, rickets and osteomalacia. Calcitonin.

Biorhythms. Melatonin. The sleep-wake cycle. Chronobiology and chrononutrition.

Memory and learning.

Pain and interoception


-Debellis, Poli. Alimentazione, nutrizione e salute. Edises

-Silverthorn Fisiologia CEA

The multimedia material used during the lessons will be made available on AulaWeb, together with any useful articles for the deepening of certain topics.


Exam Board




BRUNO PIETRO BURLANDO (President Substitute)



The teaching method includes 24 lectures of 2 hours each. Lessons are delivered through multimedia presentations. Frequency is highly recommended.

Please refer to AulaWeb for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


For lessons start and timetables, please see the following link: http: //



The exam consists of an oral interview of about thirty minutes, conducted by a commission consisting of at least two members, during which the student will have to explain some of the topics covered in class. At least 2 calls will be available in the winter session (January-February) and 5 calls in the summer session (June, July, September).

Please refer to AulaWeb for any updates due to changes in the health and epidemiological situation.


The Commission verifies the achievement of the educational objectives by asking different questions related to the program actually carried out during the lessons. Details on the degree of in-depth knowledge for each topic will be provided during the lessons.

The oral examination allows to evaluate the knowledge of the fundamental elements of the subject and the ability to link the various topics. During the interview the Commission will verify if the student has acquired the ability to apply the theoretical concepts to simple concrete contexts. The quality of the speech and the use of the correct specialized scientific terminology will also be evaluated. When the training objectives are not achieved, the student is invited to better verify his / her knowledge and possibly to make use of further explanations by contacting the teacher in charge of the course.

Exam schedule

Date Time Location Type Notes
18/06/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
07/07/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
23/07/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
10/09/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale


Regular frequency is strongly recommended.