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Code: 102633 ECTS Credits: 9
Degree Type Year Semester
2502445 Veterinary Medicine FB 2 A


Ester Fernandez Gimeno

Teaching groups languages

You can check it through this link. To consult the language you will need to enter the CODE of the subject. Please note that this information is provisional until 30 November 2023.


Patrocinio Vergara Esteras
Jose Ramon Palacio Cornide

External teachers



It is assumed that the student has a sufficient baggage of physics and chemistry, to enable the understanding of physiological functions.


It is essential to have completed the first year of the degree and to have acquired knowledge of Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Morphology I and Structure and Function of the Nervous System.


It is important to attend simultaneously subjects such as Morphology II, some of which are complementary to those of the Physiology course.


Objectives and Contextualisation

The objective of the subject is to achieve sufficient knowledge of the functions of the different organs and systems and to be able to understand and explain how they work coordinately to face of the common challenges to which that animals are exposed. The specific objectives are to know and understand.

 1 - The functions of blood, hemostasis, hemodynamics and regulation of the cardiovascular system.

 2 - The functions of the respiratory system and the renal system and their relation to the regulation of pH of physiological fluids and hydroelectrolytic equilibrium.

 3 - The functions of the endocrine system as a regulator of the energy and intermediate metabolism and of the adaptations of the organism in the mid and long terms.

 4 - The reproductive function in males and females and its regulation.

 5 - The digestive function and the adaptations of the digestive system to dietary conditions and to the presence of microbiota.

 6 - The immune system, the tolerance of  self-structures and the innate and adaptive defensive responses of the organism.

  This subject should provide the basis for detecting, evaluating, understanding and treating the pathological situations that the clinical veterinarian faces in his/her professional activity. It should also be the basis for understanding concepts that will be explained later, such as those related to nutrition and animal production.



  • Analyse, synthesise and resolve problems and make decisions.
  • Apply scientific method to professional practice, including medicine
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the physical, chemical and molecular bases of the main processes in the animal organism.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the structure and functions of healthy animals.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of English to communicate both orally and in writing in academic and professional contexts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the rights and duties of the veterinarian, with a special focus on ethical principles
  • Draft and present satisfactory professional reports, always maintaining the required confidentiality.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyse the relation between the type of immune response that develops and the characteristics of the pathogen: the method and anatomical place of entry, the effector mechanisms of the response and the evasion mechanisms.
  2. Analyse, synthesise and resolve problems and make decisions.
  3. Apply scientific method to professional practice, including medicine
  4. Define the properties of innate and adaptive immune response and defend clonal selection theory: a lymphocyte, an antigen receptor.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of English to communicate both orally and in writing in academic and professional contexts.
  6. Draft and present satisfactory professional reports, always maintaining the required confidentiality.
  7. Explain the basic concepts of the mechanisms of functional regulation in each system.
  8. Explain the interrelation between the different organs and systems, and their hierarchical organisation.
  9. Explain the main physical, chemical and molecular bases that ensure the correct functioning of the organism.
  10. Explain the mechanisms for activating and regulating cellular and humoral immune response.
  11. Foresee the qualitative and quantitative repercussions of disorder in a particular mechanism for the organism as a whole.
  12. Identify the variables that enable evaluation of the functions of each system.
  13. Recognise the magnitude and time dimension of the physiological changes that take place in the adaptation of an animal to its surroundings.
  14. Recognise the mechanisms through which the environment induces changes in animals' functions.
  15. Use correct and suitable physiological terminology.
  16. Use physiological concepts to solve problems related with clinical and experimental situations or related with the productive field.


Lectures (62h)

Presentation of the subject


1- Functions of the immune system (resp. J.R Palacio) 2 ECTS

1.1. Elements of the immune system. Innate immunity Cells  and proteins. The complement system. / Theme of Self-Learning (AAP).

1.2. Structure of immunoglobulins (Igs) Antigen-antibody interaction. TCR and BCR 

1.3. Organization of immunoglobulin genes: Recombination mechanisms. The T cell receptor (TCR). Complex CD3: TCR signaling complex. TCR / MHC / antigen trimolecular interaction.

1.4. Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Class I and Class II. Structural characteristics and function. Restriction of T response by MHC. Polymorphism and peptide binding. MHC-peptide complex: interactions, conformational changes, recognition surface, molecular mimicry

1.5. Antigenic processing and recognition. Synthesis of molecules of MHC class I and class II. Processing paths. "Cross priming". Presentation of antigens: requirements, signals accessories. Recognition of the antigen by the T cells: immunological synapse.

1.6. T Lymphocytes . Ontogeny and maturation of T lymphocytes. Positive and negative clonal selection. Restriction for MHC and self tolerance. T cell  populations : TCRab and TCRgd. Functional subpopulations:  Helper (Th), cytotoxic  (Tc) and regulatory (Treg) T cells. NKT cells. Memory T cells.

 1.7. B Lymphocytes. Ontogeny and maturation of the B lymphocytes. Phenotypic and funcional differences in B lymphocytes. Effector functions of B lymphocytes: antibody production and antigen presentation (APC). Subpopulations of lymphocytes B: B-1 and B-2 lymphocytes. T-dependent and T-independent antigens. 

1.8. Professional Antigen Presentation  Cells (APCs). Conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells: Function and anatomical location. Other cells: mast cells, eosinophils, basophils and NK cells..

1.9. Cytokines Properties. Functional redundancy. Families of cytokines. Receptors. Cytokines of innate and adaptive immunity. Chemokines, Chemotaxis and homing of leukocytes.  Families of chemokines and their receptors. Specificity, properties and main effects.

Organization of the immune response.

 1.10. Cellular immunity. From the innate to the adaptive response . Activation of T lymphocytes. TCR interaction, MHC and accessory molecules. Signal Transmission. Third activation signal: micro-environment of cytokines. Lymphocyte activation markers T: IL2R, Class II T cells and B memory. Phenotypic characteristics. Effector T cells. Th1 and Th2. T cytotoxic lymphocytes. Mechanisms of cytotoxicity.

 1.11. Humoral immune response. Activation of B lymphocytes. Antigen recognition. Second signal transduction. Th follicular cells (Tfh). Lymphoid follicles and germinal centerformation. Somatic hypermutation Maturation of affinity.

1.12. Isotope change and microenvironment in the lymph nodes. Humoral responses against T-independent and T-dependent antigens. Effector function of the antibodies. Anatomical distribution of antibodies.

 1.13. Regulation of the immune response Self-regulation. Immune Tolerance: central (clonal deletion) and peripheral (ignorance, anergy, deletion, suppression) tolerance. Mechanisms and elements of regulation during and after the immune response. Apoptosis (AICD). T regulatory lymphocytes: natural regulators (nTr), induced regulators (Tr1).

1.14. Immune response towards bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Mechanisms of evasion of the immune response. Immune memory. Autoimmunity in response to a viral infection. HIV infection.


Ineffective immune response

 1.15.Hypersensitivity reactions Conceptof hypersensitivity. Type I hypersensitivity. Type II hypersensitivity. Type III hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity type IV.

1.16. Autoimmunity Tolerance and autoimmunity. Mechanisms of autoimmunity and examples: autoantibodies, immunocomplexes, CD8 cells, CD4 cells.



2-Functions of blood, circulation and respiration (resp. M.T. Martín) 1.7 ECTS

2.1 Blood functions. Cellular elements, proteins and other solutes. Hemostasis; adhesion and platelet aggregation. Coagulation and fibrinolysis. Tissue repair

2.2 Cardiac cycle (I). Phases of the heart cycle. Isovolummetric contraction and relaxation. Relationship between  ECG,  pressures and  volumes of the different compartments.

2.3 Cardiac cycle (II). Cardiac sounds and murmurs. Systolic and diastolic sounds. Regulation of the heart cycle.

2,4 Hemodynamics of the arterial, capillary, venous and lymphatic circulation.

2.5 Regulation of blood pressure (I). Nervous mechanisms. Concept of baroreceptor. Nervous centers and afferent pathways. Neurotransmitters involved.

2.6 Regulation of blood pressure (II). Endocrine regulation. Role of the kidney in the regulation of blood pressure. Integration of the different mechanisms: pharmacological approach.

2.7 Regulation of local blood flow. Mechanisms of hyperemia and self - regulation. Local control factors.

 2.8 Capillary circulation: mechanisms for exchange and dissemination.

2.9 Mechanics of respiration. Respiratory cycle. Volumes and pressures. Functions of the diaphragm.

 2.10 Gas exchange. Oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange at the alveolar and peripheral level. Gas transport

 2.11 Regulation of breathing. Central and peripheral mechanisms of breathing regulation. Breathing in birds.

3-Endocrine system and metabolic regulation (resp. E. Fernández) 2.5 ECTS

3.1. Basic concepts on endocrinology. Hormone and target tissue concept. Hormone receptors Type of hormones and hormonalsecretions. Factors  modifying the response to hormones.

3.2. Mechanisms of action. Intracellular mediators: concept of second messenger. Types of hormones and hormonal secretions. Factors modifying the response to hormones.

3.3. General organization of the endocrine system. Hypothalamic control of the pituitary gland. Hypothalamus-pituitary portal circulation. Relationship of the hypothalamus with other higher structures. Hormones of the neurohypophysis. 

3.4. Thyroid hormones. Synthesis, storage and secretion of thyroid hormones. Transport and metabolism. Effects. Thyroid function regulation.

3.5 The pancreatic islets. Insulin: secretion, transport and effects. Glucagon: Effects. Somatostatin. Effects Other pancreatic hormones. Regulation of pancreatic islet secretions.

 3.6.Adrenomedullary hormones. Biosynthesis and metabolism. Fight or Flight responses. Stress and adrenal hormone secretions.

3.7. Glucocorticoids Effects on metabolism. Effects on the immune system. Other effects. Control of glucocorticoid secretion.

 3.8 Growth hormone Direct and indirect effects. Other growth factors. Regulation of the secretion and actions of growth hormone and growthe factors.

3.9. Energy metabolism. Energy balance. Metabolic rate. Endocrine functions of adipose tissue: adipokynes. Actions on oxidative and intermediate metabolism, metabolic rate and food intake.

3.10 Thermoregulation. Mechanisms of heat production and loss. Fever, hyperthermia, heat stroke, acclimatization, hibernation, lethargy.

3.11. Chronobiology. Rhythms in animal functions and their adaptive value. Circadian rhythms and their neural regulation.The Pineal gland and the regulation of infradian rhythms. Adaptation of the endocrine system to environmental changes.

4: Digestive system (P.Vergara resp.) 1.1 ECTS

4.1 Gastrointestinal functions. Enteric nervous system. Gastrointestinal  hormones.

4.2. Gastrointestinal secretions: regulation of the composition of salivary, gastric, pancreatic and biliary secretion.

4.3. Swallowing. Gastric receptivity and emptying.  

4.4. Fasting and Postprandial motility patterns: Migrating motor complexes. Segmentation and peristaltic movements.

 4.5. Digestion of foodstuff and absorptive processes. Water and electrolyte secretion and absorption in the intestine.  

4.6. Digestion by symbionts. Digestion and motility in the ruminant stomach.  

4.7. Digestive function in birds  


 5-Renal system and water and salt balance (resp. E. Fernandez) 0.9 ECTS

 5.1. Hormones regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism. Physiology of the bone. Parathyroid hormone, vitamin D and calcitonin.

5.2. Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Kallikrein-kinin system. Atrial natriuretic factor.

 5.3. Vasopressin. Actions, control of its secretion. Relationship with other hormones involved in the regulation of water and salt balance.

 5.4. Kidney function.  Renal circulation, glomerular filtration and its regulation. Tubulo-glomerular feed back. Renal Clearance. Estimating glomerular filtration rate.

5.5. Tubular functions. Tubular reabsorption mechanisms. Tubular secretion. Mechanisms of urine concentration and dilution. Excretory function in birds. 

5.6. Regulation of the acid-base balance. Blood and tissue tampon systems. Metabolic, respiratory and renal influences

5.7. Micturition. Mechanisms and neural pathways involved.


 6-Reproduction (P.Vergara P. resp.) 0.8ECTS

6.1. Sex biology Sexual differentiation. Sexual steroids.

6.2. Testicular function. Testicular compartments. Regulation and organizationof spermatogenesis.

6.3. Ovarian function and ovarian cycle. Phases of follicular development. Ovulation luteogenesis.Luteolysis

6.4. Regulation of the ovarian cycle. Regulation of gonadotrophin secretion. Types of cycles: Menstrual cycle; Estrous cycle; Polyestral and monoestral females.

6.5. Environmental influences on reproduction. Effects of the photoperiod: seasonal and non-seasonal animals. f Sexual intercourse-induced ovulation. Effects of social interaction.

6.6. Function of androgens in adults. Secretions of the male reproductive system. Function of estrogens and progestagens in the female reproductive system. Changes in the oviduct, uterus, cervix and vagina during the ovarian cycle. Genital reflexes: Erection, ejaculation.

6.7. Pregnancy. Endocrine recognition and support of pregnancy. Differences between different species of domestic mammals. Hormonal changes related to delivery. Functions of oxytocin. Restoration of cycles after delivery.

6.8. Development of the mammary gland. Mechanism of the secretion of milk. Start, maintain and suppress lactation. Execution of milk. Influence of lactation on ovarian function.

6.9. Reproduction in birds.


Practical works (10.5 h):


 -Hematology: Blood cell counts, hematocrit and leukocyte formula

- Separation and functional evaluation of lymphocytes

- ECG in the dog*

- Structure and function of the lymphoid organs

- Renal function tests in the dog.*

 *small groups

 Seminars (10 h):

 1- Case studies on criculation and respiration

 2- Case studies on endocrine functions.

 3- Testing renal function. Calculating renal function parameters, significance and interpretation.

 4- Adaptations of the digestive system. and case studies on reproductive physiology




The teaching methodology will involve classical lectures classes that may be either in a face-to-face or in a virtual format (e.g. using narrated presentations and enabling synchronous tutoring sessions on platforms such as Teams to discuss questions and clarify concepts). Some lectures can be taught in English.
Practical works in the laboratory and microscopy room are also scheduled (the latter could be in a virtual format in case health safety regulations would require it). Workshops and seminars on cases, problem solving and data interpretation will be held in small groups in order provide the students a closer approach to real clinical situations, to enhance their analytical skills and to promote an integrative approach to practical applications and inference of physiological concepts. At the end of the seminars, students will be required to complete short evaluable activities. In some sessions, English will be used as the vehicular language.

- Students will be required to prepare written case reports (self-learning). For an effective effort and a successful outcome, it is important to keep in mind that
a) It is essential to work on the cases once the basic contents related to them have been aprehended.

c) The proposed cases will be delivered and scored on indicated deadlines.   Tutorial sessions will be scheduled to comment, if necessary, on the most frequent errors and to review if necessary the scores obtained. After these tutorials (which can be done in the virtual classrooms), the scores will be unchangeable.

Failure or delay in the delivery of writen exercises and classroom evaluation tests cannot be separately reversed or overcome.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures 62 2.48 1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 8, 9, 12, 11, 14, 13, 15
Practical works 10.5 0.42 2, 5, 8, 12, 11, 13, 6, 16, 15
Seminars 8 0.32 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 11, 14, 13, 16, 15
Type: Autonomous      
Autonomous work on Case Reports 24 0.96 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 11, 14, 13, 6, 16, 15
Individual work and study 109.5 4.38 1, 4, 7, 10, 8, 9, 12, 11, 14, 13, 16, 15


A multifactorial evaluation system has been proposed in order to:

  • Guarantee the achievement of a good level of knowledge and skills.
  • Assess the continuous work throughout the course through various tests and tasks
  • Stimulate a continuous work on the subject (many tasks, each with a small contribution to the final score).
  • Provide students with useful tools to integrate the knowledge and opportunity to be aware of how good is their progress in learning.
  • Make it possible to test all the skills that must be evaluated.

 The most relevant aspects of the evaluation system set for the 2020-21 course are listed below:.

 The weight of the Immunology block is 25% and that of the Physiology block is 75% of the final score. However,the blocks of Immunology and Physiology must be passed separately with a minimum mark of 5,00 / 10 in each one.










-Attendance to practical Works is obligatory

If the minimum score is  not achieved in the first try, there will be a second chance in late june-early july





-There is no 2nd chance to past these tests


1st TEST Block Physiology (Circ. Resp. Endocr.)



-If the minimum score is  not achieved in the first try, there will be a second chance in late june-early july

2nd TEST Block Physiology (Digest. Renal, Reprod.)

30 %


-If the minimum score is  not achieved in the first try, there will be a second chance in late june-early july



The “second chance tests” will be like those carried out as “first chance”. If due to special circumstances a student cannot take the test(s)  in the scheduled dates, oral exams would be the preferred alternative option.


Students who wish to waive continuous assessment tests and prefer to take a single comprehensive exam of the subject, shall declare their option before 23-10-15.  This single exam will combine questions from the entire syllabus and will be divided into 2 blocks (immunology and physiology) each of which will have to be passed with a grade higherthan 5/10. Development and/or case resolution questions will be included in the exam to assess the various skills related to discursive skills, the use of technical language, etc. In this exam, the relative weight of the development questions will be 20% of the grade for the physiology block. Taking this choice does not obviate attendance to practical works and seminars 

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
1st TEST BLOCK PHYSIOLOGY (Circulation Respiration & Endocrinology) 30% 2 0.08 7, 8, 9, 12, 11, 14, 13, 16
2nd TEST BLOCK PHYSIOLOGY (Digestion Renal Function and Reproduction) 30% 2 0.08 7, 8, 9, 12, 11, 14, 13, 16
TEST BLOCK IMMUNOLOGY 25% 2 0.08 1, 4, 10, 9, 12, 14, 15


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        • Cellular & Molecular Immunology, A.K. Abbas, A.H.Lichtman, S.Pillai, Saunders, 8th edition 2015
        • Janeway’s Immunobiology, K.M. Murphy, P. Travers, M.Walport. Garland Science, 8th edition 2012
        • Kuby Immunology, J. Owen, J.Punt, S.Stranford, 7th edition 2012
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