Bachelor's degree in Nursing (to qualify as a nurse) (Trento)

Morphological and functional fundamentals of life - FISIOLOGIA

Course code
Name of lecturer
Luigi Cattaneo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
INF TN - 1° anno 1° sem dal Oct 9, 2017 al Dec 19, 2017.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The Human Physiology Course wants to provide basic knowledge of the functioning of tissues and organs of the human body. The main objective is to learn the functioning of the human body as a distributed set of different organs, organized in reciprocally interacting systems. At the end of the course, the student, in addition to the basic physiology notions, will be able to reason on the integration between cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal and digestive systems in managing the exchanges between the external environment and the internal environment and the homeostasis of the internal environment. By the end of the course students should be able to apply the new knowledge and analytical skills to the physiology of healthy subjects but also to pathology.


1. Cell physiology
1.1. Composition and biophysical characteristics of the cell membrane.
1.2. Passive and active transport. Osmosis.

2. The physiology of excitable and contractile tissues
2.1. Resting potential and action potential. Absolute and relative refractory periods. Propagation of the action potential. Graded potentials.
2.2. Classification of nerve fibers.
2.3. Chemical Synapses. Post-synaptic excitatory and inhibitory potentials. Spatial and temporal integration of postsynaptic potentials.
2.4. Electro-mechanical coupling in skeletal muscle. The cardiac action potential. Smooth muscle.
2.5. Contractile proteins.

3. Central and peripheral nervous system
3.1. Functional organization of the central nervous system.
3.2. Spinal reflexes.
3.3. Functions of the autonomic nervous system.
3.4. Brainstem and hypothalamus.
3.5. Voluntary movement.
3.6. Cerebellum and basal ganglia.
3.7. Sleep and wake.
3.8. Language.
3.9. Somatic sensitivity and pain.

4. Cardiovascular system
4.1. Generation and conduction of excitement. Cardiac pacemaker. Baroreceptors.
4.2. Intrinsic and extrinsic regulation of cardiac function: Frank-Starling mechanism: preload, afterload and contractility. Heart rate, stroke volume and cardiac output.
4.2. Basic elements of hydrostatics and hydrodynamics: pressure, flow, strength and viscosity. Poiseuille’s Law. Laminar and turbulent flow. Laplace’s law.
4.3. Arteries, capillaries and veins. Transcapillary exchanges. Venous circulation. Central and peripheral arterial pulse; Origin and propagation of the pulse wave.
4.4. Blood pressure regulation. Short-term and long-term blood pressure regulation: baroreceptors, kidney-fluid system, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
4.5. Venous return and factors that influence it. Pulmonary hemodynamics.

5. Respiratory system
5.1. Respiratory Mechanics. Intrathoracic and intra-pulmonary pressure and their variations during breathing.
5.2. Pulmonary volumes and capacities: definitions and measurements.
5.3. Physics laws of gasses. Inhaled, exhaled and alveolar air and partial gas pressures. Anatomical and physiological dead space. Pulmonary and alveolar ventilation. Dissension of gases between the lungs and the blood. Oxygen transport.
5.4. Oxygen saturation curve of hemoglobin. Influence of pCO2, pH and temperature. Quantitative aspects of oxygen transport in the blood. Carbon dioxide transport.
5.5. Nervous and chemical respiratory control: brainstem respiratory centers, peripheral and central chemoreceptors.

6. Renal system
6.1. The nephron unit: glomerulus and tubule.
6.2. Renal circulation.
6.3. Filtration process. Composition of the ultrafiltrate. Reabsorption and secretion mechanisms. Renal clearance. Tubular glucose reabsorption. Sodium reabsorption. Water reabsorption.
6.4. Concentration and dilution of urine. Hormonal control of renal function: ADH, aldosterone, renin
6.5. Renal role in Acid-Base Equilibrium.
6.6. Micturition.
6.7. Integrated control mechanisms of the volume and the osmolality of extracellular fluid.

7. Digestive system
7.1. Saliva secretion. Chewing and swallowing.
7.2. Gastric filling and emptying. Gastric secretion: gastric mucosa glands; Composition and functions of gastric juice. Nervous and humoral control of motility and gastric secretion. The vomit reflex.
7.3. Pancreatic exocrine secretion and bile secretion. Nervous and humoral control of pancreatic secretion. Composition, nervous and humoral control of biliary secretion.
7.4. Nervous and hormonal control of intestinal movements and secretion.
7.5. Defecation.
7.6. Intestinal absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, water and electrolytess.
7.7. Short-term and long-term nervous control of appetite.

8. Endocrine System
8.1. The hypothalamus-pituitary-gland endocrine glands.
8.2. Stress hormones: cortisol and catecholamines
8.3. Lactation hormones: prolactin and oxytocin
8.4. Sex hormones
8.5. Hormones in the short and long term metabolic control: insulin, glucagon, thyroid hormones and GH.
8.6. Homeostasis of body calcium: parathormone, calcitonin and vitamin D.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Stanfield CL Fisiologia (Edizione 5) EdiSES 2017 9788879599726
Widmaier E.P., Raff H., Strang K.T. Vander Fisiologia (Edizione 2) Ambrosiana 2018 9788808280022

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is written. It is carried out together with the evaluation tests of the other two modules of the integrated course (that is, anatomy and histology). The physiology test consists of 40 multiple choice questions, with 5 possible answers. Sufficiency is evaluated on the total of the correct answers in the three modules (anatomy, histology and physiology) and not on the single physiology module. The place of examination is the University Polo in Trento.


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