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Academic year 2021/2022

Course ID
Teaching staff
Dott. Fabio Penna
Prof. Riccardo Autelli
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
2nd year
Teaching period
Semester 1
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
MED/04 - patologia generale
Formal authority
Type of examination
Basic knowledge of cell biology, biochemistry, human anatomy, physiology, immunology, oncology and molecular pathology is mandatory.

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

This teaching contributes to the learning objectives included into the Biomedical area of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology - Biologia Cellulare e Molecolare, providing knowledge and applicative abilities aimed to provide students a deep and integrated knowledge of biological systems and the ability to apply such knowledge in specific fields, in particular  biomedicine. In details, students should acquire an in-depth knowledge about the consequences of an altered immune response and be able to figure out how loss of molecular and cellular homeostasis, or failure of specific organs/systems impairs functioning of the whole organism.


Results of learning outcomes

KNOWLEDGE AND COMPREHENSION - At the end of the course the students should have learned:

1) the relevance of the immune system as a potential source of disease;

2) the molecular mechanisms underlying pathologies due to excessive or defective immune response;

3) the necessary information to understand how metabolic alterations or loss of function at cellular, tissue and organ levels affect human health.

ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND COMPREHENSION - The student should become able to integrate the knowledge obtained from the section of Immunopathology with that derived from other courses such as Oncology and Molecular Pathology, Medical and Oncological Genetics. In addition, the student should demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge on how to perform immunometric analysis.

The student will also gain the capability to face with, communicate and discuss about subjects relevant to pathophysiology and human health with a sound language.

JUDGMENT AUTONOMY - The student should be able to evaluate and provide interpretation of experimental data.


Course delivery

Each Unit consists of 3 CFU, delivered as 24 hours of formal in-class lectures and seminars, for a total of 6 CFU (48 hours of lectures). Though recommended, attendance to lessons is optional and will be monitored exclusively for statistical purposes. In the event the classroom activity is inhibited due to the persistence of the CoViD-19 emergency, the entire Course will be delivered remotely, using the Webex system. In this case, the lessons will be recorded and made available as described above on the Moodle platform.

For the unit 1, the streaming can be follwed on:

For the unit 2, the streaming can be follwed on:


Learning assessment methods

Learning will be assessed by means of a final written test held in specific predefined calls.

The final test consists of a Moodle-based test of 6 questions (3 for each Unit) dealing with all the teaching program developed during the course. Depending on whether the CoVid-19 emergency will persist or not, the test modalities will slightly differ. NORMAL SCENARIO. The test will be held in a computer-equipped classroom, which will be communicated to the students using the mailing list self-generated by test enrollment. The time allowed will be 2 hours. Questions are mainly open, aimed at evaluating the specific knowledge, but also the skill for both synthesis and speech organization. CoViD-19 EMERGENCY SCENARIO. The test will be performed remotely, using the Webex system; the candidates will be remotely identified (an identity card will be requested), and both the audio and video devices on the candidate’s PC or laptop will need to be maintained active during the test. The time allowed will be 1 hour. The questions will be 6 open questions, highly focused to allow a complete answer in 10 min. As in the normal scenario, evaluation will be based on the specific knowledge demonstrated by the candidate, but also on the skill for both synthesis and speech organization. Independently of the active scenario, max punctuation is 30/30, every question having the same weight (5 points). Particularly relevant executions will be marked cum laude.  Since all the lessons and the didactic material is available online, no differences will be made among students that have physically attended the teaching or not.


Support activities

Unit I

Seminars held during the teaching period and, if allowed by the CoViD-19 activity restrictions, practical demonstration of immunometric and flow cytometry techniques.

Unit II

None scheduled



Unit I - Immunopathology

Cytokines: molecular aspects, role in the regulation of cell turnover and immune response, as well as in the pathogenesis of diseases. Major histocompatibility complex in pathology. Immediate hypersensitivity (type I): anaphylaxis, atopia, skin reaction, asthma, anaphylactic shock, food allergies. Type II hypersensitiviy: reactions against erythrocytes, platelets, blood groups, immune-based hemoliytic anemias. Immunocomplex hypersensitivity (type III): serum sickness, glomerulonephritis, Arthus reaction, immunocomplex detection. Delayed type hypersensitivity (type IV). Transplant rejection. Role of immune system, time and prevention. Immune tolerance and autoimmunity. Tolerance mechanisms breaking, association with pathology. Diagnostic and prognostic value of autoantibodies. Rheumatoid arthritis, ESL, Hashimoto tiroiditis, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis. Primary immunodeficiency: B and T lymphocyte deficit, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), adenosine deaminase deficiency, gene therapy. Deficiency of natural immunity. Secondary immunodeficiency. AIDS. Tumor immunology: immunosurveillance, tumor-associated antigens, immune escape. Immunotherapy: active and passive, tumor immunotherapy, anti-cytokine treatments Vaccines: theory, efficiency and safety, experimental vaccines. Discussion and presentation of scientific papers.


Unit II - Pathophysiology

Heart and circulation diseases. Myocardial infarction and outcomes.

Blood pressure control and alterations: hypertension, hypotension. Genetic factors and monogenic forms of hypertension.

Thrombosis and embolism.

Edema: localized and systemic forms; pathogenesis. Acute mountain sickness and complications. Shock: different types, related pathogenesis, evolution and outcomes.

Diabetes. classification and pathogenesis. Long-term complications.

Atherosclerosis: lipoprotein metabolism and molecular pathogenesis of intimal lipoprotein accumulation. Basic vascular defenses against alterations of endothelial permeability.

Liver pathology: viral and non-viral pathogenesis. steatosis, fibrosis; cirrhosis and complications. Liver failure.

Lung diseases, pulmonary edema, obstructive and restrictive diseases. Impact of pulmonary disease on acid-base equilibrium.

Gene therapy: principles and applications to monogenic diseases. Cancer gene therapy: principles, feasibility, strategies, perspectives.

Suggested readings and bibliography


The slides used for the class lectures will be made available to registered students on the Moodle platform. This material will represent a trace of the subjects covered by the formal lessons, but will not replace the official information conveyed by the reference course textbook, as detailed below.


Unit I

Abbas A.K., Lichtman A.H., Pillai S. Cellular and Molecular Immunology 9th edition, Elsevier, 2017.

Specific papers discussed during the lessons.


Unit II

Robbins and Cotran, Pathologic basis of disease, Elsevier.

Specific papers conveying last updates on critical subjects, for whose the recommended textbook may reveal not adequately updated.

Last update: 04/10/2021 11:18
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