76149 - Physiology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Alessandro Silvani (Modulo 1) Elisabetta Ciani (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Medical Biotechnology (cod. 9081)

Learning outcomes

Identify the morphology and function of specific organs and apparatuses of biotechnological interest in the context of clinical applications. Correlate concepts of integrative physiology of the human organism with pathophysiology. Select and interpret scientific data relevant to physiology and pathophysiology.

Course contents

The glymphatic system

Compartmentation of body water: intracellular, interstitial, and plasma water

Cell electrophysiology: ionic equilibrium and resting membrane potentials, excitability

Transport processes: diffusion, pores, channels, carriers, osmosis, convection, solvent drag

Cerebral circulation: blood flow, blood-brain barrier

Glia: astrocytes, microglia

Cerebrospinal fluid: production, circulation, resorption

Lymphatic system: structure-function relationship


Hypothalamic control of energy metabolism

Energy metabolism: energy balance, respiratory quotient, energy stores

Blood glucose control: insulin, glucagon, adrenaline, growth hormone, cortisol

Hypothalamus-pituitary-peripheral gland axes

Thyroid hormones

Hypothalamic response to leptin: POMC/CART and NPY/AgRP neurons

Autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions


Molecular mechanisms of kidney function

Principles of renal function: glomerular ultrafiltration, tubular resorption and secretion

Glomerular ultrafiltration: Starling’s equilibrium, tubulo-glomerular feedback

Proximal convoluted tubule: sodium, chloride, and glucose resorption; glomerulo-tubular feedback

Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system


Boron WF and Boulpaep EL. Medical Physiology, 3e, 2016. Elsevier, ISBN 1455743771.

Ten questions about systems biology. Joyner MJ, Pedersen BK. J Physiol. 2011;589(Pt 5):1017-30. PMID: 21224238.

The Music of Life: Biology beyond genes. Denis Noble. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008. ISBN-10: 0199228361. ISBN-13: 978-0199228362.

Alzheimer Disease: An Update on Pathobiology and Treatment Strategies. Long JM, Holtzman DM. Cell. 2019;179(2):312-339. PMID: 31564456.


Understanding the functions and relationships of the glymphatic system and meningeal lymphatics. Louveau A, Plog BA, Antila S, Alitalo K, Nedergaard M, Kipnis J. J Clin Invest. 2017;127(9):3210-3219. PMID: 28862640.

The role of brain barriers in fluid movement in the CNS: is there a 'glymphatic' system? Abbott NJ, Pizzo ME, Preston JE, Janigro D, Thorne R. Acta Neuropathol. 2018;135(3):387-407. PMID: 29428972.

Mechanistic Links Between Obesity, Diabetes, and Blood Pressure: Role of Perivascular Adipose Tissue. Saxton SN, Clark BJ, Withers SB, Eringa EC, Heagerty AM. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(4):1701-1763. PMID: 31339053.

Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, the Hypothalamus, and Energy Balance. Cakir I, Nillni EA. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2019;30(3):163-176. PMID: 30691778.

Differential Roles of Each Orexin Receptor Signaling in Obesity.
Kakizaki M, Tsuneoka Y, Takase K, Kim SJ, Choi J, Ikkyu A, Abe M, Sakimura K, Yanagisawa M, Funato H. iScience. 2019;20:1-13. PMID: 31546102.

Renal Effects of Sodium-Glucose Co-Transporter Inhibitors. Thomson SC, Vallon V. Am J Cardiol. 2019;124 Suppl 1:S28-S35. PMID: 31741437

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

Oral examination on the topics discussed during the lectures and listed in the course contents above. The examination outcome will be graded with a maximum of 30/30 with honors (lode). The final grade of the integrated course ANATOMICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL BASES OF ORGAN PATHOLOGIES (I.C.) will be computed as the arithmetic average of the grades obtained in the examinations for the courses of Physiology and of Anatomy.

If the answer is considered sufficient, each question is evaluated with a variable score between 18/30 and 30/30 with honors. The achievement by the student of a coherent vision of the topics discussed in the exam combined with their critical use, the demonstration of an expressive mastery and ability to use specific biomedical language terms are evaluated with marks of excellence. The mostly mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, the ability of synthesis and analysis not completely articulated, and / or the use of a correct but not always appropriate language lead to intermediate-grade evaluations; training gaps and / or inappropriate language in a context of basic yet complete knowledge of the exam material lead to marks that do not exceed sufficiency. Training and significant knowledge gaps concerning the teaching materials offered during the course and inappropriate language are negatively evaluated.

Teaching tools

Digital Video projector, PC.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Silvani

See the website of Elisabetta Ciani


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.