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CODE 67061
  • 5 cfu during the 3nd year of 8762 SCIENZE BIOLOGICHE (L-13) - GENOVA
    LANGUAGE Italian
  • SEMESTER 1° Semester
    You can take the exam for this unit if you passed the following exam(s):
    • Biological Sciences 8762 (coorte 2020/2021)
    MODULES This unit is a module of:


    The course aims to provide an advanced understanding of the fundamental principles and topics of general physiology in order to allow students to acquire specialized knowledge and understand the main physiological systems.



    Participation in training activities (lectures and laboratory) will enable the students of the Course in Biological Sciences to acquire general knowledge and fundamental notions of Physiology that are necessary for the professional opportunities in the field of Biological Sciences. The course aims to provide a complete vision of the general Physiology, starting from the functioning mechanisms of the cell, up to the integrated Physiology. The cellular aspects of the first part are necessary to understand the Physiology of the organs and systems that will be dealt with in the second, both from a comparative and human point of view, with particular regard to the mechanisms of regulation and maintenance of homeostasis.

    The student must be able to:

    • To know the basic mechanisms of the main physiological processes;

    • To know the basics of Molecular and Cellular Physiology;

    • To acquire the basic methods for the evaluation of physiological parameters and markers of cellular fractions;

    • To understand the link between structure and function at different levels of the organization of living matter from molecules to the integrated system;

    • To understand the main physiological systems and know the mechanisms by which the different cell types play their function and regulate the activity of the various tissues and organs.

    Acquired skills: The student must acquire a general view of the physiological mechanisms, from the molecular-cellular level up to that of organs and systems. In particular, the student will have to understand mechanisms of regulation allowing the different systems to work in a coordinated way within the organism, maintaining the state of health. The theoretical-practical activities are aimed at getting the student to become familiar with the experimental procedures and the use of instruments typical of a Physiology laboratory. The skills acquired will allow an adequate understanding of the international publications on General Physiology, the understanding of a laboratory protocol and its implementation.


    Knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry programs.

    Knowledge of the main aspects of General Biology with particular regard to the structure of the cell and its components.


    Teaching consists of lectures and theoretical-practical laboratory experience. Attendance at lessons and laboratory exercises is strongly recommended.

    The teaching method includes at least 32 frontal lessons of 2 hours each. Lectures in the classroom are delivered through multimedia presentations.

    The laboratory exercises are aimed at the deepening of some theoretical knowledge acquired during the lectures and the application of some of the main methodologies for the determination of physiological parameters. The exercises will be carried out in fully-equipped laboratories of the DISTAV



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

    Small group exercises will be developed (3 students max) 


    Introduction to the study of physiology.The intra and extracellular environments of the cell and organisms. Liquid compartments of organisms. Regulation and compliance, homeostasis concept.

    Membrane transport. Dissemination and Fick's law. Ionic distribution and Gibbs-Donnan equilibrium. Osmotic pressure and Vant'off law. Facilitated diffusion: symport and antiport. Primary active transport: sodium / potassium pump, calcium pumps (SERCA and PMCA). Secondary active transport of sugars, amino acids, etc. Glucose transporters. Endocytosis and exocytosis. Water flows.

    Electrical properties of the membrane and physiology of neurons. Transmembrane potential: resting potential and Nerst and Goldman equations. Graduated potentials: hyperpolarization, depolarization, spatial and temporal summation. Ionic channels: classification and functioning of the main ion channels. Action potential: characteristics (phases, threshold, law of all or nothing, refractoriness). Ionic genesis of action potential. Propagation of action potential. Morphology and function of the neuron. Functional classes of neurons: afferent, efferent, interneurons. Glial cells. Synaptic transmission. Chemical and electrical synapses. Excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. Neurotransmitters: accumulation, release, degradation / re-uptake. Neuromuscular plaque: structural and functional characteristics; genesis and propagation, of the action potential in muscle cells

    Nervous system. Anatomo-functional organization: central and peripheral nervous system.

    Physiology of the muscle. Organization: skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle tissues. Motor unit of skeletal muscle fiber: myofibrils, sarcomere, myosin, actin, tropomyosin, troponin. Sarcolemma and transverse tubules. Sarcoplasmic reticulum and longitudinal tubules. Triad. Stimulation of muscle fiber and action potential. Excitation-contraction coupling. Filament scrolling theory. Chemo-mechanical flow cycle. Smooth muscle: organization and molecular mechanism of contraction. Comparative aspects of muscle contraction: skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle.

    Sensory physiology.General principles of reception, transduction and processing of sensory signals. Receptor potential and adaptation. Characteristics and classification of sensory systems. Mechanoreception. Cutaneous receptors. Thermal sensitivity. Lateral line system. Physiology of the auditory system. Principles of acoustics: from sound vibration to nerve signal. Transduction and codification in the organ of Corti. Acoustic ways. The vestibular system: semicircular canals, saccule, utricle. Vestibular ways. Vestibular control of balance and posture. Photoreception. Structure of the eye: dioptric means and retinal photoreceptors. Visual pigments. The process of vision. Photochemistry of vision. Molecular mechanism of photo-electric transduction. Vision of colors. Processing of the visual message. Chemoreception. Chemoreceptors of olfactory mucosa and smell perception. Chemoreceptors of the language and perception of flavors. Thermoreceptors and nociceptors.

    Respiratory System Physiology.Cellular Breathing and External Breathing. Gaseous exchange structures: Gills, Trachee and Lungs. Skin respiration. Human respiratory system. Stages of breathing. Mechanics of breathing: inhalation exhalation. Lung capacity. Breathing control. Gaseous exchanges with blood. Examples of respiratory systems in some animal species.

    Laboratory.Preparation of the main physiological buffers; cellular subfractionation techniques and their recognition through molecular markers, use of the centrifuge; extraction, and quantification of genomic DNA; determination of enzymatic activity in cellular fractions; determination of the protein concentration of a sample.


    Dee U. Silverthorn “Fisiologia Umana” - Pearson

    C.L. Stanfield “Fisiologia” - EdiSES

    L. Sherwood “Fondamenti di Fisiologia Umana” - PICCIN

    M. Berne & M.N. Levy “Fisiologia” - Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

    R. Klinke, H.-C. Pape, A. Kurtz, S. Silbernagl “ Fisiologia”-EDISES



    Exam Board

    ELENA GRASSELLI (President)

    LAURA VERGANI (President)


    ILARIA DEMORI (Substitute)



    Lessons will start 25th september 2020.

    For more details please see the following link:



    Preliminary multi-test and oral test.

    Admission to the oral exam takes place after passing a written test with 30 multi-choice questions (at least 2/3 of the correct answers). The result of the test does not influence the final mark. The examination procedure for the assessment of the achievement by the student of the objectives set will take place with an oral examination, and will always be conducted by a commission consisting of at least two tenured teachers (or in cases limited by a tenured professor and a lecturer of the subject designated by the CCS) and lasts at least 30 minutes. The Commission, appointed in this way, is able to verify with high accuracy the achievement of the educational objectives of the teaching.

    The final mark will be decided considering the achievement of the specific objectives of the two modules.


    At least 3 calls will be available in the winter session (January-February) and 3 calls in the summer session (June, July, September).



    Admission to the oral exam takes place after passing a written test with 30 multi-choice questions.

    The Commission accurately verifies the achievement of the educational objectives of the teaching by asking different questions related to the program actually carried out during the lessons of the course. For the final evaluation of the student the commission will evaluate the following requirements: level of knowledge of the topics covered by the questions, exposure skills, ability to reason and link with other topics of the course. In the event that 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
    25/01/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    25/01/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    15/02/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    15/02/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    14/06/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    05/07/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    20/07/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    13/09/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale