Citology and Histology

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Cognomi M-Z
Course type: 
Basic compulsory subjects
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 

The course, starting with elementary basic notions, does not require specific scientific or biological knowledge beyond that acquired in high school (with the exception of artistic and musical high schools) or by a technical institute with a biological orientation.

Final Examination: 

The number of calls for the exam is planned by the Degree Course. The evaluation of the curriculum will be carried out by a practical test based on the recognition of one, or more, histological preparations. The student will be admitted to the oral exam only if the practical examination is passed. The practical test, once passed, is valid for 12 months.
The oral exam consists of: recognition of one, or more, photos showing optical or electronic microscopy preparations, chosen among those projected during the course, which will be followed by a series of questions aimed at assessing the student's ability to contextualize the type of cell in relation to the biological tissue to which it belongs, describe its ultrastructural organization and function, arriving, if required, to describe its functions and links between course topics. The final grade, which are expressed as a grade out of 30, is determined by the oral test only and will take into account the congruity of the answers to the questions asked, the correct use of scientific terminology of the student's ability to present a general vision by establishing relevant connections between the different topics of the course.

Voto Finale

Learning objectives
The teaching activity aims to provide the essential bases of the biology of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The student will be provided with the knowledge necessary to understand the morphological, structural and functional characteristics of the cell, starting from the molecular level and expanding to the supramolecular level. This knowledge provides the basis for understanding how the cells organize themselves in biological tissues, and the morphology, the structure and the function will be studied. The practical part of microscopy is aimed at recognition of histological preparations, in order to allow the studentsto apply the knowledge acquired during the lessons. This knowledge constitutes the fundamental basis for the formation of a graduate in Biological Sciences who will have to face, in the following years, teachings that will span different fundamental sectors of life sciences.

Learning outcome
Specifically, at the end of the course, the student will be able to:

1. use an optical microscope
2. recognize, sample preparations in optical and electronic microscopy
3. explain the basic techniques for the preparation of samples for optical and electronic microscopy
4. starting from the ultrastructural characteristics, will be able to recognize the cell typology and describe its function in a physiological and/or pathological context.
5. Work in a team

The course is divided into three parts:
1-CYTOLOGY (28 hours)
In this section, the animal cell will be addressed with particular reference to:
Cell size, unit of measure and knowledge of microscopy (optical and electronic), preparation of biological specimens for observation in optical microscopy (light field, fluorescence) and electronics.
Chemical components of cells, the chemistry of the molecules of life, sources and uses of energy: fundamentals of the laws of thermodynamics,
biological macromolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids): structure, physico-chemical characteristics and functions.
Organization, characteristics and function of the cellular membrane.
Organization, features and function of cytoskeleton proteins (intermediate filaments, microtubules and microfilaments).
Cellular compartments and their functions: nucleus, smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, peroxisomes, mitochondria.
The cytoplasm, chemical-physical characteristics and functions,
Protein sorting and transport to cell compartments.
Exocytosis, endocytosis and transcytosis processes.
Somatic cell division (mitosis) and germ cell division (meiosis) with an introduction to genetic viability

2-HISTOLOGY (36 hours)

In this section, cell organization into fundamental and specialized biological tissues will be covered. For each type of tissue, the characteristics, functions and location of cells will be illustrated.
Epithelial tissues (simple and multi-layered): features, function, distribution, cellular surface specializations (microvilli, cilia, stereo cilia and flagella) and the basolateral specializations (cell-cell junctions and cell-matrix junctions)
Glandular epithelial tissues: morphological and functional classification, tissue distribution. Types of secreting cells and process of secretion.
Connective tissues: characteristics, development, functions and localization (dense, loose), and specialized (cartilage, bone and hematopoietic bone marrow) connective tissue, concerning cell population and extracellular matrix components.
Characteristics, development, function, and localization of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle tissue with particular attention to the muscle contraction process.
Characteristics, development, function, and localization of nervous tissue and neuroglia cells.
Characteristics, development, function, and localization of lymphoid organs (spleen and lymph nodes) with outline to the main immune response mechanisms.

The histology laboratory consists of 6 lessons of 2 hours each. During the first lesson, the student will acquire information on the organization of the laboratory, learn to use the optical microscope and how to observe histological preparations. Each lesson will be preceded by a brief explanation of the topic followed by the observation of histological preparation divided by topic:

- Epithelial tissues
- Glandular epithelia
- Connective tissues
- Cartilage
- Compact and spongy bone
- Adipose tissue
- Blood and lymphoid tissues
- Skeletal muscle tissue
- Cardiac muscle tissue
- Smooth muscle tissue
- Nervous tissue


The use of a university book is essential (high school books are not recommended).
For the lectures:
“Biologia Cellula e Tessuti” AUTORI VARI, 2° edizione a cura di R. COLOMBO e E. OLMO Editore: EdiErmes Anno edizione: 2014.
The recommended book for electron microscopy is:
“Bloom & Fawcett trattato di Istologia” D.W. Fawcett, McGraw-Hill XII ed.

For the histology laboratory:
“Istologia ed elementi di anatomia microscopica” AUTORI VARI Editore: EdiSES.
“Anatomia microscopica funzionale dei visceri umani” Manrico Morroni, Edito-re: EdiErmes
Books from High School are not recommended
The teaching material, both for lectures and for lessons in the histology labora-tory, will be periodically updated, and consist of the slides and videos that are projected in classroom by the professor.
All the aforementioned educational material is made available to students on the e-learning platform.

The teaching activity includes a lecture and laboratory component.
Lectures will be carried out with the aid of slides and videos.
The practical activity in the laboratory will be presented both on the first day of the lessons and during the course, with many reminders during the lessons. The laboratory component is designed to help acquire both the basic tech-niques of histology and the rules of behavior for working in a safe manner. Each lesson is accompanied by slides that will allow the student to easily carry out the proposed tasks. The organization allows the formation of groups of two people.

The professor is available for clarifications and / or in-depth information by prior appointment both by telephone and by mail. In this last case, the requests will be processed only if received by the student's institutional email.