cod. 22100

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - Second semester
- Enzo POLI
Academic discipline
Farmacologia (BIO/14)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

1. Knowledge and understanding. The course is finalized to the knowledge of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the
main drugs classes acting at the nervous system and their main interactions with the endocrine system and the immune systems. Such notions
will allow the student to better understand the basic biochemical and biomolecular events featuring living beings and how exogenous
substances modify them. Particular attention will be paid to the knowledge of mechanisms involved in cell excitability, cell proliferation
and tissue repair.
2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding. Students will be stimulated to elaborate the acquired notions in the physiological context
of the in whole animal and in vitro biological activity of the preparations or isolated cells. Such knowledge will focus on signs and/or symptoms
that develop following the administration/intake of medicines, and to assess the effects they produce.
3. Making judgments. The student will acquire the knowledge for future planning of study protocols aimed at the characterization of new
molecules, once the graduate will enter the world of work.
4. Communication skills. Students will acquire the terminology to describe objectively the actions of drugs and biomathematician models
currently applied to quantify the effect of drugs on the different organs and systems.
5. Learning ability. Students should be able to use the acquired knowledge to understand and re-elaborate the literature regarding drugs,
the use them in bio-pharmacologic field for research purposes.


- - -

Course unit content

The course is aimed at understanding the effects of experimental as well as therapeutic drugs and their use in whole animals and/or on isolated
organs or cells in culture for research purposes. Moreover the course contents are also adressed at understanding the biological basis of drug effects in the therapeutical setting.

Full programme

Basic pharmacological concepts, drug origin, nomenclature, drug formulations. Discovery and development of new biologically active molecules: modification of natural drugs, neosynthesis, biological drugs.
Factors involved in drug actions and its effect at the level of organs and systems.
Measurement of drug effects: quantal effects and gradual effects.
Animal models for the study of drugs: in vitro and in vivo methods.

Drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. Accumulation of drugs in the body. Main methods of drug administration and contamination.
Bioavailability and bioequivalence concepts. Nanopharmaceuticals: new medicament formulations and their interactions with target tissues.

Mechanisms of drug action and molecular targets: interaction with regulatory and structural proteins; enzyme inhibition, blockade of membrane transport, inhibition of ionic currents and channel block.
Drugs acting at receptor level: pharmacological receptor concept; agonism, antagonism, inverse agonism and descriptive biomolecular models of drug action. Receptor dynamism as a factor that determines the action of drugs and its changes over time.
Factors that may alter the response to drugs: species, race, sex, diseases. Concept of pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics: idiosyncratic responses.
Drug toxicity. Mechanisms of toxicity at the cellular and systemic level. Drug allergy.
Drug interactions of clinical relevance. Incompatibility.

General dynamics of neurotransmission and mechanisms that determine the effects of drugs on the nervous system, central and peripheral. Neurotransmitters and their characteristics.
A) Excitatory and inhibitory systems: The glutamatergic and the gabaergic systems in the control of brain functions. Glutamate as an excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate receptors, the role of glutamate in the control of the CNS and SNP. Excitotoxicity: role in neurodegenerative diseases and trauma. Drugs active on the excitatory system: stimulants and inhibitors. GABA as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABAergic receptors as targets of central nervous system. Depressant drugs: general anesthetics, sedatives, anxiolytics, antiepileptics and muscle relaxants.
B) Adrenergic system, central and peripheral. Catecholamine receptors and adrenomimetic and adrenolytic drugs. Focus on the role of the adrenergic system in the central nervous system.
C) Cholinergic system. Acetylcholine in cognitive processes, in the motor system (central and peripheral), in the autonomic nervous system.
D) Dopaminergic system. Role of dopamine in motor control, learning and memory, cognitive processes, gratification processes and addictions. Focus on drugs acting on Parkinson's disease and psychosis. Substances of abuse and their interaction with the dopaminergic system.
E) Serotoninergic system. Role of serotonin in the CNS and its involvement in the control of mood and behavior. Antidepressant and psychotomimetic drugs.
F) Opiatergic system. Endogenous opioid substances, opioid receptors and their role in pain control and in other functions. Morphine and related drugs. Morphine antagonists.
G) Endocannabinoid system.
Drugs that interfere with DNA and related functions. Gene silencing and its relevance in different diseases of the nervous system: dementia, multiple sclerosis, ALS, etc.
Basic neurotoxicology: relevance for drugs and xenobiotics of environmental origin.


F. Clementi - G. Fumagalli, Farmacologia Generale e molecolare (Quinta Edizione), EDRA - Torino, 2018 (783 pagine).
L. Brunton, R.H. Dandan, B. Knollmann, Goodman & Gilman's The pharmacological basis of therapeutics, XIII Ed. (or foll.) 2016. Mc Graw Hill Co. Inc. - New York (ca. 1500 pages)

Teaching methods

The course will be held through lectures to Students either in the classroom (“in presenza”) or in synchronous-streaming (“in telepresenza”) on the Teams platform. Therefore, the opportunity of Student/Teacher interaction will be preserved both face to face and remotely, by the simultaneous use of the Teams platform.
Lectures will be supported by slide presentations, which will be available to students on the Elly platform (

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examen. In case of the persistence of the health emergency, the exams will be conducted remotely, as follows:
remote oral questions, through the Teams platform (guide
Students with SLD / BSE must first contact Le Eli-che: support for students with disabilities, D.S.A., B.E.S. (

Other information

- - -