Combined Bachelor's + Master's degree in Medicine and Surgery

Combined Bachelor's + Master's degree in Medicine and Surgery

Histology and Embryology (2017/2018)

Course code
Marina Bentivoglio
Academic sector
Language of instruction


Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff
Esercitazioni di Istologia e Embriologia 1 Lezioni 2° semestre 1°- 5° anno Giuseppe Bertini
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia 8 Lezioni 2° semestre 1°- 5° anno Marina Bentivoglio

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Learning outcomes

The course has the objective to provide essential knowledge on the structure, functions, life stages of the cell and on intercellular communication (Cytology part), on the main families of tissues which compose the organs of the human body and on the characteristic features of each tissue (part on Tissues), on embryonic and fetal development (human Embryology part).
The practicals have the objective to develop the student's ability in microscopy studies, the skills in observing and recognizing cells and tissues of different types of tissue in the structure of organs.


- Methods and tools for the study of the structure and fine structure of cells and tissues: fixation, embedding, cutting of histological sections, stains; principles of light microscopy in bright field, in fluorescence (including confocal microscopy), transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, multiphoton microscopy; histochemical and immunohistochemical techniques; in vitro cell cultures.

- General concepts of cell, tissue, organ, apparatus; living substance; cell differentiation
- The stem cells
- Plasma membrane: structure (lipid bilayer, proteins, channel proteins) and functions; cell surface receptors; cell signaling and signal transduction.
- Plasma membrane permeability: mechanisms of passive and active transport across the membrane; carrier proteins
. - Plasma membrane specializations and their functional role: glycocalyx; specializations of the free surface (microvilli, cilia, flagellum); intercellular junctions (tight junctions, zonula adherens, desmosomes, gap junctions).
- Exocytosis, endocytosis.
- Cytoplasm and cell organelles: cytosol; cytoskeleton (microtubules, microfilaments, intermediate filaments); rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum; ribosomes (and principles of protein synthesis); Golgi apparatus (and principles of protein sorting); lysosomes and phagocytosis; peroxisomes; mitochondria; mitotic apparatus; cell inclusions.
- Nucleus: nuclear envelope and nuclear pores; chromatin; nucleolus.
- Notes on mitosis and meiosis (dealt with in detail in the Biology course).
- Cell death: necrosis, apoptosis, autophagy.

- Main families of tissues and their features of organization.
- Epithelial tissues: main types and functions.
- Epithelium (coating epithelia): cytological features, classification, regeneration. Epidermis and keratynocytes.
- Sensory epithelia
- Glands: exocrine and endocrine secretion; classification of exocrine glands; types of endocrine glands.
- Tissues derived from mesenchymal cells (connective tissues): classification; cell differentiation lines.
- Connective tissue: extracellular matrix composition; fibers: collagen fibers, reticular and elastic fibers, collagen synthesis; fibroblasts and other cell components (T and B lymphocytes, plasma cells, macrophages); notes on the immune system.
- Adipose tissue: white and brown types, structure and function; adipocytes.
- Cartilage: structure and features; hyaline and elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage. Extracellular matrix and chondrocytes. Chondrogenesis
- Bone: structure and features. Compact bone and spongy bone. Osteon, lamellar arrangement. Extracellular matrix; blood supply and innervation. Cells: osteoblasts, osteocytes, osteoclasts. Intramembranous and endochondral osteogenesis. Repair mechanisms.
- Blood: plasma, red and white cells, platelets.
- Lymph: composition and circulation.
- Hematopoietic tissue: compartments; formation of erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets.
- Dental tissues. Enamel organ and tooth histogenesis.
- Muscle: general features, functions, innervation of the different types of muscle. Skeletal muscle: muscle fiber, sarcomere. Cardiac muscle. Types f sarcoplasmic reticulum. Smooth muscle.
- Nervous tissue: general features and functions. The neuron: cell body and dendritic arborizations; axon; myelin sheath. Synapsis (including the neuromuscular junction). Axonal transport. Glail cells (astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes, Schwann cells): types and fetaures; myelin formation; structure and function of the blood-brain barrier; notes on neuroplasticity; regenerative capacity and potential in the central and peripheral nervous tissue.

- Gametogenesis
- Ovarian cycle and menstrual cycle
- Fertilization
- Zygote segmentation
- Blastocyst and its implantation
- Bilaminar germinal disc
- Gastrulation; neurulation; formation of the somites.
- Pharyngeal arches
- Embryo and fetus developmental stages
- Placenta; fetal membranes
- Development of the face (including the formation of the palate and the tongue) and of the skull
- Development of the limbs
- Development of the respiratory apparatus
- Development of the gastrointestinal tract
- Development of the urogenital apparatus
- Development of the cardiovascular system
- development of the nervous system

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is oral (except for the option of a written test on Cytology - see below) on the four parts of the course:
1) Interpretation and description of a histological preparation in light microscopy (exam related to the practicals)
2) Cytology
3) Embryology
4) The tissues
Each of these four parts will be given a vote; the final vote is the arithmetic mean vote. A sufficient vote on part 1 is needed for the subsequent parts of the exam. The exam will have to be repeated entirely in case of insufficient vote in any of the parts.

As for part 2 (Cytology), the option of a written examination (a multiple choice test) will be given at the end of the teaching course on the Cytology part during the semester. The vote of the Cytology written test will be valid for one year. The student will have anyhow the option of an oral exam also on Cytology (if he/she prefers) of repeating the Cytology part orally in case of an unsatisfactory vote.

Reference books
Activity Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Esercitazioni di Istologia e Embriologia Leslie P. Gartner & James L. Hiatt Atlante a colori e testo di Istologia Piccin 2017 978-88-299-2835-4
Esercitazioni di Istologia e Embriologia Gianpaolo Papaccio Atlante di Istologia (Edizione 3) Idelson Gnocchi 2017 9788879476591
Esercitazioni di Istologia e Embriologia Bani et al Istologia - Atlante (Edizione 7) Idelson-Gnocchi 2016 9788879476133
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia Zaccheo e Pestarino Citologia, Istologia, Anatomia Microscopica Pearson 2013
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia Adamo e Coll Istologia di Monesi Piccin 2017
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia Adamo e Coll Istologia di Monesi Piccin 2012
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia Di Primio e Coll Istologia Umana Idelson-Gnocchi 2017
Lezioni di Istologia e Embriologia Moore, Persaud Lo sviluppo prenatale dell'uomo EdiSES 2017


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