Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


A.Y. Credits
2021/2022 8
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Rita De Matteis On appointment (rita.dematteis@uniurb.it)
Teaching in foreign languages
Course with optional materials in a foreign language English Spanish
This course is entirely taught in Italian. Study materials can be provided in the foreign language and the final exam can be taken in the foreign language.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Sport, Health and Physical Exercise (L-22)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The aim of the course will be learning of basic concepts of general physiology and of knowledge and of conceptual instruments for representation of human body functions, of their hormonal and nervous control and of main adaptations to exercise, to training and to some special environments. The student will have to be able to substain a discussion about general homeostatic problems, and to analyze the contribution of the functions and of their integration.


1. Basic concepts. 1.1. Definition of physiology and of its objects of study. 1.1.1. Definition of living object. 1.2. Information in biological systems. 1.2.1. Concept of message and of code. 1.2.2. Intercellular communication and its role in multicellular organisms. 1.3. Control systems. 1.3.1. Open and close chain control system. 1.3.2. Negative feed-back. Oscillatory behaviors. 1.3.3. Positive feed-back. All- or nothing-kind phenomena. 1.4. Mechanisms of signal amplification. 1.5. Concept of milieu intérieur and of homeostasis. 

2. Cell physiology. 2.1. Cell membrane: composition, architecture, fluidity. 2.2. Membrane transports: simple diffusion and diffusion by carrier; primary and secondary active transport. 2.3. Electrophysiology. Resting membrane potential. Passive membrane properties. Local potential propagation. Action potential. Action potential propagation in myelinated and non-myelinated fibers. Eccitability and refractoriness. 2.4 Intercellular communication: extracellular signals, kinds of receptors and  their mechanisms of action.

3. Muscle function. 3.1. molecular mechanism of muscle contraction. 3.1.1. Structure of muscle. Sarcomer: architecture; composition and structure of thin and thick filaments. Other proteins of sarcomer. 3.1.2. Mechanism of sliding. 3.1.3. Control of contraction: excitation-contraction coupling; role of Ca2+. 3.2. Morphofunctional classification of muscle fibers. 3.3. Mechanics of contraction. 3.3.1. Isometric and isotonic contraction. 3.3.2. Twitch and tetanus. 3.3.3 lenght-force relationshi. 3.3.4. force-velocity relationship. 3.4. Energetics of muscle work. 3.4.1. Work and power. 3.4.2. Heat production. 3.4.3. Energetic sources. 3.5. smooth muscle: structure; mechanism of contraction; control; innervation. 

4. Neurophysiology. 4.1. Neurobiology. 4.1.1. Neuron. Shape-function relationship. Excitability of neuron membrane. 4.1.2. Electric synapses. 4.1.3. Chemical synapses: presynaptic mechanism; ionotropic and metabotropic postsynaptic mechanism. Main neurotrasmitters and receptors. Excitatory and inhibitory synapses. 4.1.4. Axon hillock, information flux and functional polarization of neuron. Integrative function of neuron. 4.2. Perception. 4.2.1. Sensory stimulus. Peripheral and central phase of perception. Sensory receptors: reception and transduction. Coding of the key features of the stimulus: mode, intensity, spatial location, time definition. 4.2.2. Vision. The visual stimulus. Eye. Retina. Photoreceptors. Phototransduction. Visual pathways. Introduction to central processing of visual information. 4.2.3. Somatic sensibility. Touch. Nociception and its control. Thermoreception. Proprioception: muscle spindle, Golgi tendon organ. Cortical areas of somatic sensibility. 4.2.4. Vestibular system. 4.3. Motricity. 4.3.1. Motor neuron. Neuromuscular junction. Motor unit. Spinal motor nuclei. Control of contraction force: firing rate and recruitment. 4.3.2. Reflexes. 4.3.3. Descending motor pathways. 4.3.4. Motor cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia.

5. Blood circulation. 5.1. Generalities and cardiovascular functional anatomy. 5.2. Blood. 5.2.1. Generalities and composition. Plasma. Red blood cells. Leukocytes. Platelets. 5.2.2. Hemopoiesis and its regulation. 5.2.3. Hemostasis and coagulation. 5.3. Heart. 5.3.1. Functional anatomy and histology of the heart. 5.3.2. Electrophysiology of specialized and working myocardial tissue. Automatism. Depolarization wave spread. Electrocardiogram. 5.3.3. Cardiac cycle: systole, diastole, function of valves, pressure, volume and blood flow. 5.4. Blood circulation. 5.4.1. General pattern of circulation. 5.4.2. Histo-functional features of the vessel wall. 5.4.3. Principles of hemodynamics. 5.4.4. Blood pressure and its regulation. 5.4.5. Microcirculation. Microcirculation structural features. Capillary endothelium types. Capillary exchange: diffusion; filtration; transcytosis. 5.4.6. Venous circulation. Venous compliance. Venous circulation dynamics. 5.4.7. Pulmonary circulation features. 5.5. Lymph, lymph system and lymph circulation. 5.6. Adaptations of cardiac function and circulation to physical activity and training. 5.6.1. Intrinsic adaptations of myocardial function to exercise. 5.6.2. Nervous and hormonal regulation of heart function during exercise. 5.6.3. Nervous and hormonal regulation of vasomotricity. 5.6.4. Regulation of circulation in muscles during exercise: mechanical distension; myogenic constriction; flow-dependent dilation; metabolic vasodilation.

6. Respiration. 6.1. Respiratory system functional anatomy. 6.2. Breathing mechanics. 6.3. Alveolar ventilation. Respiratory membrane. Gas exchange in the lungs and tissues. 6.4. Physiologic dead space. 6.5. Oxygen and carbon dioxide transport in blood. 6.6. Nervous and chemical control of breathing. 6.6.1. Genesis of the respiratory rhythm. 6.6.2. Aortic and carotid chemoceptors and peripheral mechanism. 6.6.3. Central mechanism. 6.7. pH regulation by breathing. 6.8. Breathing adaptations to physical activity and training.

7. Renal function. 7.1. Kidney functional anatomy. Nephron. 7.2. Renal circulation. 7.3. Glomerular filtration and its regulation. 7.4. Tubular reabsorption and secretion. 7.5. Water reabsorption and water balance regulation. 7.6. Acid-base regulation. 7.7. Ion homeostasis. 7.8. Hormonal regulation of tubular reabsorption and secretion. 7.9. The renin-angiotensin system. 7.10. Urinary tract. Urination.

8. Endocrine Physiology. 8.1. Chemical classes, metabolism, transport of hormones. 8.2. General endocrine organization. Neuro-endocrine relationships. Feedbacks and reciprocal control. Basal secretion and response to stimuli. 8.3. Endocrine glands and their hormones. Each hormone: functional anatomy of the endocrine gland; hormone chemical nature; functions; receptors and mechanism of action; regulation of secretion. 8.4. Adenohypophysis. 8.4.1. Hypothalamus-pituitary portal circulation and hypothalamic control of adenohypophysial function. 8.4.2. Adenohypophysis hormones: growth hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone. 8.5. Neurohypophysis. 8.5.1. Hypothalamic production, transport and release of neurohypophyseal hormones. 8.5.2. Neurohypophyseal hormones: oxytocin, antidiuretic. 8.6. Thyroid. 8.6.1. Basal metabolism and regulation. 8.6.2. Thyroid hormone. 8.7. Control of serum calcium. 8.7.1. Values and importance of the control of serum calcium. 8.7.2. Parathyroid hormone. 8.7.3. Calcitonin. 8.7.4. Vitamin D. 8.8. Endocrine pancreas and glycemic control. 8.8.1. Values and importance of blood glucose control. 8.8.2. Insulin. 8.8.3. Glucagon. 10.8.4. Other hyperglycaemic hormones. 8.9. Control of hyponatremia, kalemia and blood volume. 8.9.1. Aldosterone. 8.9.2. Atrial natriuretic peptide. 8.10. Glucocorticoids. Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. 8.11. Hormones of the adrenal medulla. 8.12. Hormones of the male gonads. 8.13. Hormones of the female gonads. 8.13. Hormonal responses to stress and physical activity.

9. Reproduction. 9.1. Male reproductive system. 9.1.1. Functional anatomy. 9.1.2. Spermatogenetic function. Glands. 9.2. Female reproductive system. 9.2.1. Functional anatomy. 9.2.2. Ovogenetic function. 9.2.3. Ovarian cycle and uterine cycle. 9.3. Fertilization. 9.4. Pregnancy and birth. 9.5. Reproductive function in relation to age: puberty and menopause.

10.Gastrointestinal Physiology. 10.1. Motility. 10.2. Circulation and Enteric nervous system. 10.3. Mastication and Swallowing. 10.4. Exocrine function and digestion. 10.5. Absorption mechanisms. 10.5. Physiological functions of the liver.

11. Energy metabolism and energy balance. 11.1. Hormonal and nervous regulation of metabolism. 11.2. Control of food intake. 11.3. Regulation of body temperature.

Bridging Courses

Fisics/Chemistry and biochemical propedeutics, Human biology, Human anatomy, Biochemistry

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


Oral lectures

Course books

B.M. Koeppen, B.A. Stanton, Berne & Levy Physiology, Elsevier 2018. 

A.C. Guyton, J.E. Hall, Fisiologia medica, Elsevier, 2016. 

W.F. Boron, E.L. Boulpaep, Medical physiology, Elsevier.


Oral exam designed to assess compliance with Dublin Descriptors requirements.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


Oral lectures

Course books

B.M. Koeppen, B.A. Stanton, Berne & Levy Physiology, Elsevier 2018. 

A.C. Guyton, J.E. Hall, Fisiologia medica, Elsevier, 2016. 

W.F. Boron, E.L. Boulpaep, Medical physiology, Elsevier.


Oral exam designed to assess compliance with Dublin Descriptors requirements.

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