72832 - Human Physiology and Basics of Physiopathology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students have advanced knowledge of general physiology and pathophysiology, useful for further studies in Bio Health degrees  and in general laboratory activities in the health sector

Course contents

AA.AA. 2015/2016
Lectures:  5CFU, equivalent to 40 hours

Physiology: definition and general concepts. Organization levels of living organisms and related disciplines. Structure-function relationships. Internal and external human environment. Extracellular and intracellular body fluids: distribution and composition.

Homeostasis: definition and general concepts. Homeostatic responses and strategies. Integration of functions. Control systems: sensors, integrated centers, effectors.

Regulation of body functions: hormonal, neuroendocrine and nervous regulation. Self-regulation. Feedback mechanisms and circuits. Central and peripheral cellular receptors. Physical and chemical sensors.

Physiology of the skin and skin appendages. Skin: definition, structure and general information. The keratinocytes, evolution and function of keratin. Sebaceous glands and skin lipids. Melanocytes: overview, function and evolution of melanin. From the "third eye" to epiphysis: MSH and melatonin. Melatonin and circadian rhythms. Langerhans cells: localization and functions. Merkel cells: localization and functions. Derma: overview, structure and functions. Elastic fibers and collagen fibers. Innervation and skin receptors. Hypodermis. Sweat glands.

Blood: definition and general concepts. Composition of blood. Hematopoiesis: phases and control. Cytokines. The red blood cells, platelets and coagulation.

Cardiovascular system: definition, organization, general concepts and evolution. Blood pressure: static and dynamic components. Pressure gradient and flow. The hydrodynamic resistance: parameters and the law of Poiseuille. Relationship between resistance and flow. The rate of flow and the speed of blood.

The heart: structure and generalities. The cardiac muscle tissue: structure and functions. Cardiac ontogenesis. Heart valves. Contraction of the heart muscle. Cardiac pacemaker: excitation - contraction coupling. Propagation of the action potential: from pacemaker cells to cardiac fibers. The action potential of myocardial cells. The refractory period. The action potential of pacemaker cells: the relationship between depolarization and heart rate. Sympathetic stimulation. The pressure-volume curves. The stroke volume. Cardiac output. The regulation of heart rate, stroke volume and contractility.

Flow rate and control of arterial pressure. Definition, organization and structure of blood vessels. Systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure. Arteriolar resistance and its regulation. Capillaries. Lymphatic system.

Regulation of arterial blood pressure: baroreceptor reflex.

 Respiratory system. Respiratory mechanics and breathing. Definitions, general concepts and structures. Airways: structure and functions. Pulmonary epithelium. Pulmonary blood circulation. Pulmonary ventilation and respiratory function. The four lung volumes. Atmosphere's composition.  The gas laws: Boyle's law. Inspiration, espiration and pressure-volume relationship. Pleurae and pleural fluid. Intrapleural pressure and respiratory cycle. Surface tension, Laplace's law,  and alveolar surfactant. Compliance. Resistance in the respiratory system. Pulmonary ventilation and alveolar ventilation. Respiratory dead space. Types of ventilation. Relation between pulmonary ventilation and alveolar gases pressures. Local control of airflow and blood flow: coupling and encoupling of ventilation-perfusion.

Exchange and transport of gases. Introduction and definitions. Fick's law and Henry's law. Gases solubility  in aqueous solutions and carrier molecules of oxygen. Hemoglobin and heme ligands. Characteristics of oxygen binding. Allosteric model. Hb/O2 association / dissociation curves and binding- modulating factors. CO2 transport. Carbon monoxide. Myoglobin. Foetal hemoglobin Regulation of ventilation. Respiratory control centers and ventilation-regulating factors. Central and peripheral chemo receptors. Protective reflexes. Hering Breuer reflex.

 Kidneys and excretory function. Eccrine  and apocrine sweat. Urinary system: overview, structure and functions. Osmolarity. The nephron. Filtration and the filtration barrier: structure and functions. The glomerular filtration rate and its regulation. Juxta glomerular apparatus and macula densa. The active and passive reabsorption: introduction and examples.Reabsorption pathways. Kidneys transport regulating factors. Secretion. Excretion. Clearance. The filtered load. Urination.

The fluid and electrolytes balance. LEC osmolarity and homeostasis. The water balance. The fluid conservationand diuresis. Vasopressin and the aquaporins. Osmoreceptors. The loop of Henle and countercurrent multiplication. Na + balance and  LEC volume. Aldosterone, angiotensin and atrial natriuretic peptide. K+ balance. Volume-osmolarity integrated control.

The acid-base balance: overview. The H+ / K+ pump. The buffer systems. Acids and bases sources. Metabolic acidosis. Renal compensation of pH. Renal compensation of acidosis. Acidosis and respiratory and metabolic alkalosis.

 Digestive system: overview, structure and functions. Nutrients. The digestive system motility. Gastrointestinal smooth muscle contraction. The secretions of the digestive system. The CFTR channel. Digestive enzymes, mucus and saliva. Bile and bile salts. Regulation of the digestive system: overviews. Nervous control and the enteric nervous system. Stimuli, receptors, effectors, and reactions. Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, vitamins, mineral salts, ions. The digestive processes. The cephalic phase, the gastric and intestinal phases and relationship between them. Digestive hormones. Pancreatic enzymes. Absorption of liquids. Intestinal digestion. Large intestine: function and motility.

Introduction to the endocrine system. Overviews, definitions and functions. Homeostasis and correlation between autonomic nervous system / endocrine / immune systems. Hormones and receptors. Overview and mechanisms of signal transduction. Endocrine and  neuroendocrine reflexes. The amplification. Effective plasma concentration. Interaction between hormones. The end of the hormonal response. General information on endocrine disorders. The hypothalamic-pituitary system: overviews, function, hormones, and control circuits.

Laboratory: 1 CFU, equivalent to 12 hours

Theoretical and practical knowledge of physiopathology and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, in collaboration with the Training Centre "IRC-BLSD" - Ozzano and San Lazzaro (Bologna) Public Assistance.

The incidents in living and working conditions: trauma, bleeding, sunstroke, heat stroke, anaphylactic shock, electrocution, the state of coma.

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (BLS): theory and practice with exercises on mannequin (Resusci-Anne).


Dee Unglaub Silverthorn. Fisiologia Umana: un approccio integrato, VI edizione.  
Laboratory digital handouts available in e-Campus

Teaching methods

The course is composed of  5 frontal  CFU  (corresponding to 40 hours) + 1 laboratory CFU  corresponding to 12 hours of practical activities.  Practical activities are carried in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences and is consists of a tutorial of 8 hours  regarding BLS (Basic Life Support) + 4 hours of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a dummy with sensors.
The objective of the practical classes is: 
- Make the student familiar with the main concepts related to the pathophysiology of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.  - Make the student familiar with main notions and related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Assessment methods

The end of course exam  aims to assess the achievement of the following learning objectives:
- Knowing the  principles which regulate human systems physiology.
- Knowing  the principles of some pathophysiological phenomena.
- Knowing  the theoretical and practical principles of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The final score for the course "Human Physiology with principles of Physiopathology" is defined by 
 - an oral test on the average of the scores obtained in a significant number of  specific questions on topics related to the objective 1 of the course. 

- a written test on the average of the scores obtained in a significant number of  specific questions on topics related to the objective 2 of the course.


Teaching tools

Computer with projector.


Material: material presented during lectures will be made available to the student in electronic format via the Internet.

To get educational materials: http://campus.unibo.it/

Username and password are reserved for students enrolled at University of Bologna

Office hours

See the website of Tiziana Guarnieri