Structural and functional bases of nutrition

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/09 BIO/16
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to provide a deep understanding of the physiological and anatomical aspects of nutrition (food intake, digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients, as well as excretion of waste products and catabolites).
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will have acquired an overview of the anatomical and physiological processes of the nutrition, based on an integrated view that considers their molecular, cellular and systemic aspects.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
Sensory system. Smell, taste, vision and qualitative perception of food. Organization of the olfactory and visual system. Structure of taste buds and organization of the gustative pathways. Organization of the olfactory system.

Nutrients intake. Generalities on structure and function of the digestive system.
Oral cavity: general description; architecture and structure of tongue, teeth, palate, salivary glands, pharynx and oesophagus. Salivary secretion, mastication and deglutition.
General morphology and structure of the stomach. Gastric secretion, digestion and mobility.
Small and large intestine: general morphology, localization, architecture and structure, innervation.
Pancreas and liver: general morphology, localization, architecture and structure. Structure of the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts and of the gallbladder.
Pancreatic, biliary and enteric secretion. Digestion of glucides and molecular mechanisms for monosaccharides absorption. Protein digestion and transport mechanisms of aminoacids. Digestion and absorption of lipids. Absorption of vitamins and ions. Functions of the large intestine. Intestinal mobility. General aspects of intestinal microflora function and of the role of the digestive system in immune response.

The excretions. Structure and functions of the uropoietic system. The kidneys: macroscopic anatomy, architecture and structure. Composition and structure of the nephron. Generalities on upper and lower urinary tract. Glomerular filtration. Molecular mechanisms of tubular reabsorptions and secretions. Distribution and composition of body liquids. Control of tubular transports and diuresis. Generalities on ionic and osmotic homeostasis.

Role of the endocrine regulation
Generalities of organization and function modalities of the endocrine system regulation of hormonal secretion. Structure and functions of the hypophysis and of the hypothalamus-hypophysis axis Structure and functions of the endocrine pancreas. Control of hematic levels of insulin and glucagon. Anatomy and functions of the thyroid and the suprarenal glands: metabolic influences of their products. Gastro-entero-pancreatic system and gastrointestinal hormones.

Role of nervous regulation
Morphofunctional aspects of the nervous regulation of nutrient intake.

Metabolic fate of nutrients and regulation of the energetic balance
Homeostasis of the organic components. Role of the liver and glycemic homeostasis. The regulation of the energetic balance: basal energetic metabolism and diet-induced thermogenesis. Measures of the energetic metabolism. Energetic reserves and modes of storage.

Cardiovascular system
Anatomy of the heart and vessels. Mechanical properties of heart and circulation. The cardiac pump. Cardiac electrical activity. Control of arterial blood pressure and heart rate.

Skeletal muscle
Basic concepts of skeletal muscle contractility, muscle motor units. General aspects of the physiology of physical exercise, muscular and metabolic effects of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of physics, cytology, histology, and genaral physiology
Teaching methods
Traditional lectures supported by interactive material (powerpoint presentations)
Teaching Resources
Ambrosi et al. "Anatomia dell'Uomo", Edi.Ermes.
Dalle Donne "Istologia con elementi di anatomia microscopica", EdiSES.
Martini - Bartholomew. "Elementi di Anatomia, Istologia e Fisiologia dell'uomo" EdiSES.
V. Taglietti "Fondamenti di Fisiologia generale e integrata" EdiSES
Berne & Levi "Fisiologia", Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
Lecture slides, scientific research articles and reviews regarding each lecture topics (uploaded on ARIEL)
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam consists of a written test organized in two sections that must completed at the same time:
-The first section evaluates the knowledge of the anatomical structures associate with the nutrition process. This section consists of: a) organs recognition from microscopic anatomical images and b) a written essay question; the a) and b) parts equally determine the score of this part (30 points).
-The second section evaluates the knowledge of the physiology of nutrition. This section consists of: a) a set of multiple-choice questions and b) one essay written questions; the a) and b) parts equally determine the score of this part (30 points).
The exam is positively evaluated only if a score of 18/30 is reached in each section; the final score is the weighted average of the two sections to take into account the prevalence of the teaching time dedicated to the physiological aspects.
BIO/09 - PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/16 - HUMAN ANATOMY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 72 hours