Homepage » Courses Offered » Undergraduate Studies » 4th 13B013 Animal Physiology


Compulsory/Elective Code Semester Lectures Practicals Credits ECTS
Compulsory 13B013 4th 4 Hrs/Wk 3 Hrs/Wk 6 8.0

The presentation of the basic principles that govern the physiology of animals, with emphasis on mammals. The operating principles are discussed at all levels: of organism, organ, cell and molecule. At the same time, in addition to theoretical training, the functions of the physiological systems are studied via appropriate laboratory practicals and simulations, so that the students by the end of the course, will be able to understand, describe and compare the mode of function of the various physiological systems.

In particular, the course aims include: 1. To provide a course on animal physiology, introducing students to the principles and basic mechanisms that govern the operation of the physiological systems of the body. 2. To prepare students to combine data regarding structure and function at the level of organ, cell and molecule. 3. To identify and understand the mechanisms that mediate interactions and cross-talk of the various physiological systems. 4. To outline and suggest experimental approaches and procedures so as to gain insight of the above mechanisms. 5. To investigate the properties of the physiological systems studied, using appropriate simulation programs of individual physiological systems. 6. To develop the skill to use, in an appropriate and effective way, online databases as well as the up-to-date international literature for a soundest approach to developing research projects in the field of animal and human physiology. 7. To work in groups for the analysis and presentation of results of published scientific studies that make an effort to contribute to the clarification of the molecular pathways activated in various diseases.


At the end of the course students should:

KNOWLEDGE: a) Acquire enhanced knowledge on how to describe and define basic concepts related to the structure and function of physiological systems (eg signal transduction, central and autonomic nervous system, behavioral mechanisms, cellular communication pathways), b) Understand the regulatory mechanisms of function of the physiological systems as well as the properties of their effectors their and way of organization, c) Recognize and identify the organs and cells that mediate immunological responses as well as how temperature, metabolic processes and endocrine function are regulated,  d) Be able to describe and pinpoint the most effective way of interventions in order to restore pathological conditions of the cardiovascular system, based on the knowledge of hemodynamics and mechanisms of function of the circulatory system, e) Know how to handle and apply simulation programs of individual physiological systems, to understand the organ, cell, body and molecules of the mechanisms regulating their function.

SKILLS: a) Be able to develop cogent and critical arguments in order to explain and evaluate the most effective way to overcome any problems regarding the proper function of physiological systems, b) Be able to select and apply the most appropriate approach for achieving the research goals in the particular scientific field, being familiarized with the use of international literature and databases, c) After attending the laboratory practicals, students will be able to understand the regulatory mechanisms of physiological systems, as well as those involved and activated in nerve and muscle function, enzyme activity, the action of hormones, regulation of breathing and osmolality equilibrium, as well as those mediating proper function of the circulatory system, d) Be able to perform, analyze and report on experiments involving manipulation of biological samples and tissue specimens, e) Be also able to identify and pinpoint the etiology of complex problems in the field of physiology, as well as to discover and suggest ways to resolve them, based on bibliographic data and acquired knowledge.

CAPABILITIES: a) Be able to integrate related topics from separate parts of the course and analyze the mechanisms regulating structure, function and interaction of physiological systems, b) Be able to develop and design strategies for innovative experimental approaches so as to answer the questions under investigation, in the various disciplines of physiology.


Structure and function of the nervous system (14 hours): Nervous tissue: Neuron and neuroglia. Neurophysiology: resting potential, action potential, mechanism of action potential generation, synapses, neurotransmitters, mechanism of synaptic transmission, receptors. Anatomical elements and structure of the nervous system: central nervous system, spinal cord, brain, peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system, blood supply to the brain, blood-brain barrier, cerebrospinal fluid, metabolism in the brain. Sensory organs: General and special senses. Higher brain functions: Memory, learning, consciousness of language and behavior.

Endocrine system (6 hours): cellular communication, regulatory mechanisms, mechanisms of action of hormones, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, peripheral glands.

Motility, muscle structure and function (6 hours): Role of calcium, regulatory mechanisms, mechanical properties of striated, cardiac and smooth muscle.

Circulatory system (8 hours): Structure, regulatory mechanisms. Hemodynamics, blood, circulatory system of vertebrates. 

Respiratory system (3 hours): Structure, regulatory mechanisms, main functions, organization of the mammalian respiratory system.

Mammalian Excretory system (4 hours): Structure and function of the kidney and nephron. Regulation of water and ion excretion.

Immune system (3 hours): General organization. Organs and cells that mediate the immunological mechanisms. Innate immunity. Adaptive immunity.

Energy metabolism (4 hours): Regulatory mechanisms, bioenergetics, the digestive tract of mammals. Nutrition and absorption.

Thermoregulation (2 hours): Mechanisms of adaptations to environment.

Reproduction (2 hours): Mechanisms of function and regulation.


1. Properties of nerves and simulation of the function mechanism of a neuron – 2. Study of mechanical properties of (a) striated muscle and (b) smooth muscle – 3. Energy supply for muscle contraction, the phosphagens and their kinases, LDH activity – 4. Effect of hormones on liver glycogen and blood glucose levels – 5. Effects of food deprivation on liver metabolism – 6. Excretion in lower invertebrates and human – 7. Respiration – 8. Properties of heart muscle: in situ and during perfusion in vitro9. Study of blood cells, hemolysis of erythrocytes, hematological parameters. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of plasma proteins, determination of plasma and blood volumes – 10. Hemoglobin saturation curve.

  Lectures: P. Papazafiri, Associate Professor of Animal Physiology (Coordinator) - S. Efthimiopoulos, Professor of Animal & Human Physiology-Neurobiology - E. Valakos, Professor of Comparative Animal Physiology-Ecophysiology - O. Tsitsilonis, Professor of Immunology - I.-K. Aggeli, Assistant Professor of Animal Physiology
  Practicals: S. Efthimiopoulos, Professor of Animal & Human Physiology-Neurobiology - E. Valakos, Professor of Comparative Animal Physiology-Ecophysiology - P.Papazafiri, Associate Professor of Animal Physiology - O. Tsitsilonis, Professor of Immunology - I.-K. Aggeli, Assistant Professor of Animal Physiology - Dr.  A. Fotinopoulou, Laboratory Teaching Staff - Dr. A. Marmari, Laboratory Teaching Staff - Dr. S. Papavasiliou, Laboratory Teaching Staff.

The evaluation process consists of an examination conducted either on the whole material of the course or in two parts and includes: 

A. Written examination of the laboratory practicals consisting of: a) questions to evaluate students' critical thinking regarding the methodologies and experimental procedures implemented as well as the knowledge of physiology principles taught and b) solving mathematical problems so as to evaluate the student’s knowledge and skills in data analysis 

B. Written examination of the theory of the course consisting of: a) multiple choice questions, b) short answers where the student has to justify and prove his understanding of basic terms and mechanistic principles taught and c) solving problems or exercises based on the major principles taught.

Students are also expected to hand in mandatory laboratory reports so as to prove their skills of processing and presenting experimental data.

From the beginning of the semester, the students are informed by the coordinator of the course that the laboratory exercises participate by 20% and the theory by 80% at the final grade of the course. The mark of the laboratory practicals, comes from an examination conducted separately. Passing marks in both examinations are required.

  If you require more information, please contact the Course Coordinator, Assoc.Prof P. Papazafiri at: Tel 2107274665;  e-mail: ppapaz[at]biol.uoa[dot]gr