Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Matricole pari
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on SPORTS SCIENCE
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
First Semester



Course description

The class is focused on the comprehension of the basic mechanisms underlying the function of the principal organs and systems of the human body. Particularly, at the end of the class the student will possess:
- Deep knowledge of the physiological mechanisms underlying the functions of following systems: central, peripheral and autonomous nervous system; skeletal and smooth muscle twitch; respiratory system and alveolar gas exchange; cardiocirculatory system; glomerular filtration in the kidney; bone tissue structure and Calcium deposition and re-adsorption. (Ability of comprehension).
-Ability to explain basic physiological concepts by means of X-Y graphs and the main Physiology Laws (Applied Comprehension Ability);

-The ability to distinguish physiological and non-physiological functions of the main organs and systems of the human body (Decision-making autonomy).
- Utilize a proper scientific language for communication either to specialists or naive people, not belonging to the motor sciences working environment (Communication skills.)

- To deepen concepts of interest, by autonomously selecting the appropriate sources of information (Learning ability).


Basic concepts of anatomy, biology, biochemistry.


1. Cellular membrane and transportation of different molecules. Structure and composition of plasmamembrane. Fluxes of water, hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules across plasmamembrane. Passive diffusion, primary active transport and secondary active transport. Na/K pump, Ca2+-ATPases. Co-transport and antiport . Examples of co-trasportation: Na-glucose transportation, Na-GABA/DA/NE/serotonin transporter. Na-glutamate transporter; antiporter H+-neurotrasmitter. Trans-epithelial transportation and protein transportation via trans-cytosis.

2. Properties of excitable membranes. Ion flux through semi-permeable membranes; generation of the membrane potential; equilibrium potential of an ion; Nernst and GHK equations. Resting membrane potential in neural cells; chemical and electrical gradients across membranes. Cellular organization of the CNS, Golgi and Cajal’s theories. Types and functions of glial cells within central and peripheral nervous system.

3. Generation of nerve pulses. Classification of ionic channels on their gating properties and selectivity. Voltage-gated and ligand-gated channels. Action potentials and graduate potentials. Sodium and potassium channels, voltage-sensor; inactivation properties and refractory period. Signal propagation on myelinic and a-myelinic axon membranes.

4. Signal transmission. Gap-junctions and electrical synapses. Chemical synapses, pre- and post-synaptic membranes. Otto Loewi’s experiment to demonstrate neutrotransmitter release in the extracellular space. Quantal release of neurotransmitters; role of Ca2+ ions in vescicles release. Neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Cleavage of neurotransmitters and re-uptake into pre-synaptic terminals. Excitatory and inhibitory synapses.

5. Types of receptors. Ionotropic post-synaptic receptors; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the motor junction. Glutamate ionotropic receptors. Metabotropic receptors and intracellular pathways activated by these receptors. G-proteins, c-AMP, PI-turnover and Ca2 release from endoplasmic reticulum. Synaptic plasticity, long term changes of synaptic strength. Pre- and post-synaptic modifications involved in synaptic plasticity.

6. Sensory system. Exteroceptive and proprioceptive sensibiltity; fast adapting e slow adapting cutaneous mechanoceptors; classification of sensory fibers; muscle fuse and stretch reflex; Golgi’s tendon and strength reflex. Primary sensitive cortex, transmission of pain.

7. Phototransduction. Epithelial organization of the retina. Cones and rods, enzymatic cascade of the phototransduction. Dark current.

8. Motor system. Primary motor cortex M1. Pre-motor cortex. Pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor pathways. Somato-topic organization of spinal motorneurons. Types of motor units FF, FR e S; muscle strength and progressive recruitment of motor units. Basal ganglia and cerebellar contribution to control of voluntary movement.

9. Skeletal muscle. Structure of muscle cells, sarcomere structure, regulatory proteins. Heavy and light filaments, ATP regulation of cross-bridge formation and rupture. Relationship sarcomere tension/length. Isotonic and isometric twitch.

10. Mechanisms underlying muscle twitch. Regulatory proteins of the thin filament in skeletal and smooth muscles; voltage-dependent Ca release form endoplasmic reticulum, Ca2+ re-uptake mechanisms; Ca-induced-Ca release in cardiac muscle; smooth muscle cells, filament organization, mechanisms of twitch, role of mysion kinase and phosphatase. Autonomic innervation of smooth muscle, pre- and post-ganglion fibers, neurotransmitter utilized.

11. Aerobic and anaerobic metabolism utilized by muscle cells. White and red muscle fibers and their preferred metabolism. Lactate production by glycolytic fibers. Oxygen consumption during physical exercise. Oxygen debt.

12. Heart physiology and circulation. Heart chambers, heart valves gating mechanisms. Types of cardiac muscle cells; working myocites, pacemaker myocites and conductio

1. Cell membrane and transportation of different molecules.
2. Properties of excitable membranes.
3. Generation of nerve pulses.
4. Signal transmission.
5. Types of membrane receptors.
6. Sensory system.
7. Phototransduction.
8. Motor system.
9. Skeletal muscle.
10. Mechanisms underlying muscle twitch.
11. Aerobic and anaerobic energy metabolism utilized by muscle cells.
12. Heart physiology and circulation.
13. Respiratory system.
14. Renal system.
15. Bone tissue.

Teaching Methods

The class is performed by means of frontal lessons.


1. Fisiologia, Autori vari, a cura di E. D'Angelo e A. Peres, Edi Ermes
2. Any book related to Physiology for three-years degree in Motor Science.

Learning assessment

Aim of the examination test will be to ascertain the achievement of training objectives reported above. By means of an oral test, we will ascertain the level of knowledge of the different topics, scientific language skills, the ability to comunicate concepts and to correlate different topics. The student's ability to explain scientific concepts of physiology by means of X-Y graphs and to gain additional information in published literature will be also assessed.

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