1. Introduction to the Course (1 hour).
1.1 Program of the course: presentation of lectures and seminars.
2. The Special Senses (8 hours).
2.1 The chemical senses (smell and taste): anatomy and functional organization of the olfactory system; physiological mechanisms of olfactory signal transduction; central olfactory pathways: olfactory bulb, olfactory pathways and cortical processing of information; anatomy and functional organization of the gustatory system; taste receptor cells and proteins; central gustatory pathways, coding and signal transduction.
2.2 Eye and vision: general principles of optics; anatomy and functional organization of the eye; phototransduction mechanisms; sensitivity and visual acuity; color vision; retinal circuits; cell response to different lighting conditions; central visual pathways; field of view.
2.3 Ear and hearing: general principles of acoustics; anatomy and functional organization of the auditory system; the meccano-electric transduction of the sound; ionic bases of meccano-transduction in ciliate cells; central auditory pathways; auditory cortex.
2.4 Vestibular system: anatomy and functional organization of the vestibular system; static and dynamic balance; otoliths and semicircular canals; vestibular nerve pathways; vestibulo-ocular reflex; central pathways to thalamus and cortex.
3. The Motor Control (10 hours).
3.1 Hierarchical organization of motor control systems; types of movement.
3.2 The spinal cord as a center of reflexes; proprioceptors (joint receptors, neuromuscular spindles, Golgi tendon organs); motor efferences of the spinal cord; concept of myotatic unit and mutual inhibition; spinal reflex arcs; spinal generators of rhythm: the locomotion and biomechanics of the path; muscular stiffness; the cycle of the step; nervous control of locomotion.
3.3 Voluntary movement: nerve centers responsible for movement; relationship between motor neurons and muscles; somatotopic organization of motoneurons; motor program.
3.4 Movement planning and organization: primary motor cortex, posterior parietal cortex and premotor cortex; mirror neurons.
3.5 Modulation of the movement by brain stem and spinal cord: lateral and medial motor descending pathways; posture, balance and visual orientation; final common pathway.
3.6 Modulation of the movement by basal ganglia: anatomy and functional organization of the basal ganglia; afferent and efferent fibers of the basal ganglia; saccadic eye movements; direct and indirect pathways of the basal ganglia; dopaminergic pathway.
3.7 Modulation of the movement by the cerebellum: anatomy and functional organization of the cerebellum; afferent and efferent fibers of the cerebellum; basic cerebellar circuits; control of the cerebellum on voluntary movement.
3.8 Memory and learning: definitions. Memory: locations, mechanisms, neurobiological bases of short and long-term memory; role of the hippocampus; long term potentiation (LTP). Associative learning and conditional learning. Procedural learning and procedural memory; steps of motor learning, role of the cerebellum in motor learning; striatal circuit and cerebellar circuit.
4. Introduction to the Endocrine System (3 hours).
4.1 Cell signaling at short and long distances; gap junctions; cell-cell contact dependent signaling; autocrine and paracrine signals; long distance communication through nervous system and blood circulation: neurotransmitters and hormones.
4.2 What makes a molecule a hormone; hormone-receptor interaction and signal transduction and termination; classification of hormones in peptide-protein, steroid, and amine hormones; mechanisms of release, transport and action of the different classes of hormones; mechanisms of action of hydrophilic and hydrophobic (or lipophilic) hormones; differences between ionotropic and metabotropic receptors; mechanisms of signal transduction in G-coupled receptors and in receptors tyrosine kinases; intracellular receptors and genomic effect.
4.3 Hormones of the anterior pituitary gland (PRL, TSH, ACTH, GH, FSH, LH); hormones of the posterior pituitary gland (oxytocin and vasopressin); control of the anterior pituitary by the hypothalamus; the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system; long- and short-range negative feedback circuits.
5. Physiology of Kidney and the Hydro-electrolytic Balance.
5.1 Introduction to the urinary system: urinary tract and kidney; main function of the kidneys; cortex and medulla regions; the nephron: tubular and vascular elements; the structure of the renal corpuscle.
5.2 The nephron: the four basic processes (filtration, reabsorption, secretion, excretion); concepts of filtration fraction; and filtration pressure; self-regulation of glomerular filtration rate: myogenic response and tubulo-glomerular feedback; reabsorption (ex .: sodium, glucose, urea); concept of saturation of renal transport: maximum transport and threshold; concept of clearance; control of urinary reflex.
5.3 Hydro-electrolyte balance: water balance and role of the kidney in its regulation; vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone; countercurrent exchange in the medulla of the kidney; sodium and potassium balance and via renin-angiotensin-aldosterone; behavioral mechanisms in the hydro-electrolyte balance: thirst, salt appetite, heat avoidance behavior.
5.4 Renal regulation of acid-base equilibrium: blood buffer systems, ventilation, renal regulation of H+ e HCO3-; renal buffer systems; function of intercalated cells A and B in the collector duct.
6. Energy Balance and Metabolism (4 hours + 1 seminar).
6.1 Satiety and feeding center in the hypothalamus; appetite and hunger signals: ghrelin and neuropeptide Y; satiety signals: leptin and insulin; glucostatic and lipostatic theory for the control of food intake.
6.2 Energy balance: energy in and energy out pathways; direct calorimetry and indirect calorimetry; oxygen consumption, production of carbon dioxide and respiratory co-efficient; factors that influence oxygen consumption.
6.3 Body metabolism: anabolic and catabolic pathways; absorption or assimilation state; post-absorption or post-assimilation state; the different metabolic pathways underlying usage and storage of energy (glycogenesis, glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis, lipogenesis, lipolysis, and protein synthesis).
6.5 The role of pancreas in the control of metabolism: insulin and glucagon in satiety and fasting; pancreas response to blood glucose levels; insulin receptors and signal transduction in in muscle, adipose tissue and liver; type-1 and type-2 diabetes mellitus.
7. Thermal Balance and the Regulation of Body Temperature (or Thermoregulation) (2 hours + 1 seminar).
7.1 Energy balance and the cost of thermogenesis; metabolic efficiency in the transfer of energy to glycogen and fat deposits.
7.2 Thermal Balance and the Regulation of Body Temperature: balance between gain and loss of body heat; heat production: non-shivering and shivering thermogenesis; mechanisms of heat gain: irradiation and conduction; mechanisms of heat loss: conduction, irradiation, convection and evaporation.
7.3 Control of body temperature by the hypothalamus: center of thermoregulation; peripheral and central temperature receptors; sensory pathways of the spino-thalamic tract; the thermoregulatory reflex: mechanisms of vasodilation, vasoconstriction, and sweating.
8. Endocrine Control of Metabolism and Growth (4 hours+ 1 seminar).
8.1 Adrenal glucocorticoids: ACTH and control of cortisol secretion; effects of cortisol on target organs/tissues; pharmacological use of cortisol; hypercortisolism and hypocortisolism.
8.2 Thyroid hormones: mechanisms of synthesis of thyroid hormones by follicles; release, transport, and effect of T3 and T4; TSH and control of the release of T3 and T4; hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
8.3 Growth hormone (GH): GHRH e GHIH and the control of GH release, and effect of GH on target organs and tissues; GH and its role in growth.
8.4 Growth of soft tissues and bones: hyperplasia and hypertrophy; linear growth of long bones; importance of calcium in bone growth; role of osteoclasts and osteoblasts in bone remodeling.
8.5 Role and balance of calcium in the body: the three hormones that regulate the calcium balance (parathormone, calcitriol and calcitonin); osteoporosis and loss of bone tissue.
9. Applied Physiology: muscular, cardiovascular, and respiratory adaptations to exercise (4 hours + 1 seminar).
9.1 Training and assessment of its intensity: fundamental principles to which training must respond: functional overload, specificity, inter-individual differences, reversibility; difference between aerobic resistance training and power training; factors influencing the effectiveness of training: initial aerobic capacity, intensity, duration and frequency of training; relationship between percentage of VO2max and heart rate; training area: training at the lactate threshold.
9.2 Muscle adaptations to power and aerobic exercise.
9.3 Acute ventilatory and cardiovascular adaptations to physical exercise: changes in ventilation; relationship between ventilation and partial pressures of alveolar and blood oxygen and carbon dioxide; relationship between blood lactic acid, pH and ventilation; changes in heart rate, blood pressure, systolic volume, and re-distribution of blood volumes and flow to organs.
9.4 Chronic ventilator and cardiovascular adaptations to exercise (training effects):
respiratory adaptations to aerobic training; adaptations of the myocardium (eccentric and concentric hypertrophy) and of the vascular system to training.
10. The Integrative Seminars (4 hours).
The course of Human Physiology for the Master degree will also include a series of 4 seminars, which will be held within the normal teaching schedule, in the second part of the course. The exact date of each seminar will be announced at least one week in advance:
10.1 The mitochondrial position inside skeletal muscle fibers (and its importance for metabolism)
10.2 Heat Stroke induced by strenuous physical exercise and high environmental temperatures: is it possible to develop a cure for humans?
10.3 Find a cure for rare diseases of genetic origin: the Telethon Mission.
10.4 Muscle adaptation to exercise: how fibers learn to use extracellular Ca2+ to limit fatigue.