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Basic pathology and immunology


Basic pathology and immunology


Academic year 2020/2021

Course ID
Prof.ssa Federica Cavallo (Lecturer)
Prof. Fiorella Biasi (Lecturer)
Dott. Paola Francesca Gamba (Lecturer)
Prof.ssa Gabriella Marisa Leonarduzzi (Lecturer)
2nd year
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
MED/04 - patologia generale
Formal authority
Type of examination
Written and oral
Having a solid background on the basis of genetics and biology.

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

The course will be divided into two main subjects: Immunology and Basic Pathology

Immunology objectives: An understanding of the immune system is central to the understanding of how the body interacts with its surroundings, and how it both protects itself and responds to infectious disease. The course leads the student through both innate and adaptive immunity, how infection is detected, and how the cells of the immune system interact to generate a response. The mechanisms underlying allergy and hypersensitivity and the immune response to tumors are also provided. The aim is to provide the understanding of the essential aspects of immunity required to understand immunological diseases, investigations and treatment.

Basic Pathology objectives:this part of the course will provide molecular basis for understanding causes, mechanisms and evolution of human diseases. Main processes such as necrosis, inflammation and tissue degeneration, which are fundamental for understanding disease development and progression, will be considered. A group of lessons will be dedicated to ONCOLOGY for understanding biomolecular mechanisms involved in tumor development and growth, as well as becoming familiar with tumor nomenclature and classification.


Results of learning outcomes

Students will achieve knowledge on fundamental principles of the disease and recognizing disease processes regarding the impairment of tissue homeostasis, immune responses and cancer.

In particular, the students will have to understand the main cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the immune system contributes to the prevention, healing, and its interplay with cellular and tissue responses that can lead to disease development in human pathology.




  • Tissue damage: adaptation conditions (hypertrophy, hyperplasia, atrophy, regression, metaplasia, dysplasia)
  • Cell death: morphological, biochemical and molecular aspects of necrosis and apoptosis. The role of cellular redox balance
  • Acute inflammation (Angiophlogosis): structure and function of the blood microvascular system. Exudate formation
  • Inflammatory mediators: fluid phase mediators and cellular mediators
  • Chronic inflammation (Histophlogosis): Classification and mechanism of formation of different unspecific and specific (granulomas) types of chronic inflammation
  • Wound healing: tissue regeneration and reintegration
  • Environmental causes of damage: physical (extreme temperatures and pressures; ionizing and non-ionizing radiation) and chemical factors
  • Fever: causes, mechanisms, stages and classification
  • Degenerative processes: thesaurismoses by lysosomal enzyme deficit, alcoholic and non-alcoholic steatosis, fibrosis and sclerosis, hepatic cirrhosis



  • Overview of the immune system
  • The natural immune response. The pattern recognition receptors and their ligands.
  • The cytokine network.
  • The complement system: activation and effector functions
  • The Major Histocompatibility Complex: genomic organization and polimorfisms. Antigen presentation to T cells.
  • Cells of the adaptive immune response.
  • The T cell receptor. Thymic education and antigen recognition by T cells. T cell activation and effector mechanisms.
  • B cells. The generation of antibodies diversity. T and B cell cooperation. Antibody production. AID and its role in class switching and somatic hypermutation. Molecular structure and effector functions of antibodies.
  • Functional anatomy of the immune system
  • Self-tolerance and tolerance induction to exogenous antigens.
  • Hypersensitivity and Autoimmunity.
  • Basic concepts in tumor immunology and immunotherapy.



  • Definition of neoplasia. The neoplastic multiphasic process
  • Normal and neoplastic proliferation - Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
  • Cancer growth and invasiveness: molecular mechanisms of tumor infiltration and angiogenesis
  • Tumor metastases - principal routes of cancer spreading
  • Epidemiology and classification of tumors. Tumor grading and staging
  • Cancer etiology: chemical, physical, biological and genetic causes
  • Inflammation and cancer. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Tumor cachexia
  • Hereditary cancers

Course delivery

The course mainly consists of lectures associated with practical activities (regarding immunology, some case studies in which the immune system plays and important role will be presented and discussed with small groups of students).


Learning assessment methods

The exam will consist of:

Basic Immunology module: written test (Moodle platform; WebEx virtual room) including multiple-choice, true/false, matching, and open questions. 

Basic Pathology module: oral exam (WebEx virtual room).

Please note: after taking the exam of both modules, if one of them is sufficient, the partial mark can be preserved just for the next session (only once!). 


Support activities

Basic Pathology - Practical activities and seminars will be provided in order to give deep information on the topics of the lessons

Immunology - For those that show gross deficiencies in the prerequisites, support is offered individually or in small groups outside lesson. Updated reviews (mainly from Nature Reviews Immunology) on topics covered in class will be provided for those students that want to deepen their knowledge in the field.



Suggested readings and bibliography

Immunology lessons

  • Janeway's Immunobiology, Ninth edition, K Murphy, Garland Science;
  • The Immune System, Fourth Edition, P Parham, Garland Science.

Basic Pathology lessons

  • Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, 9th Edition, Vinay Kumar, Abul Abbas, Jon Aster, Elsevier Ed.
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