91829 - Endocrinology of Marine Vertebrates

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Clean water and sanitation Oceans

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Understanding of endocrine regulation mechanisms towards the homeostasis maintainment in marine vertebrates and their adaptation to different environments. General principles of endocrinology will be examined first, and then specific topics will be discussed from the anatomy to functions of the endocrine glands, to the activity and mechanisms of different hormones. Due to the significant advances in scientific information on fish, endocrine functions will be discussed in-depth to reach good knowledge through the most advanced studies. Stuents will finally aquire useful information in the field pf research and comparative endocrinology, fish biology and applications to aquaculture. 

Course contents

The Hormones, definition and action mechanisms. The endocrine glands in fish. The hypotalamus/hypophysis hormones: role in growth and osmoregulation. Urophysis and role in osmoregulation. Epyphysis, melatonin and circadian rythms. Thiroid hormones: synthesis, role and modulation of development and adaptation. Cortisol: synthesis, role and modulation of metabolism and water-salt equilibrium. Insulin, glucagon and GLP: synthesis, role and modulation of metabolism. Ghrelin, letpin and control of feeding. Catecholamines: synthesis, role and stress response. The glands peculiar of fish: Stannius bodies, parafollicular cells, ultimobranchial bodies and calcemia regulation. Sex hormones: synthesis, role and modulation of reproduction. The endocrine glands in marine mammals: main hormones, regulatory functions and differences versus terrestrial mammals. 


Book: Fisiologia degli animali marini. Poli A e Fabbri E. 2018. Edises, Napoli

Scientific articles, discussed in class.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons. Discussion of scientific articles

Assessment methods

To evaluate the knowledge acquired through the teaching activity, the exam (written) deals on 2 - 3 specific open questions on the different topics. The students will be invited to provide synthetic answers, in line with the questions.

Teaching tools

Power Point slides and scientific articles

Office hours

See the website of Elena Fabbri