2023-2024 / PHYL0520-1

General physiology


25h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Bachelor in physiotherapy and rehabilitation4 crédits 
 Bachelor in motor sciences4 crédits 


Bernard Rogister

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Teacher : B. Rogister, Professor

The classical definition of General Physiology is the study of the properties which are common to all cells and living beings (Claude Bernard).

Among these common properties, there are the major metabolic pathways already studied during the General Biochemistry lectures. The ability for a cell or for a pluricellular living being to keep constant its internal environment despite variations of the external environment is an other very important property common to all cells and living beings. This constance is favorable and required for optimal biochemical reactions. This property is called homeostasis and is also studied by General Physiology.

Homeostasis includes the possibility for a cell to detect a modification in its environment or an external information and to respond it appropriately. However all cells or all cells in a living organism are not identical. They are able to provide particular function and thus, have specific and different internal environment given their function. In consequence, cells have to dialog with each other and the integration of all these informations at the cellular level is also the purpose of General Physiology.

Conceptually, the regulation of internal environment involves: 1) detection of a modification by various sensor systems of the cell or of the body, 2) the transmission of an information from the sensor to a central integrator and 3) an appropriate response of this integrative centre. This response could be either direct or performed by an effector after a new step of transmission which carries now the response information. Such an approach emphasizes the importance of physical borders between internal and external fluid in a cell or in a living organism. Thus, it is at the cell membrane that most of the mechanisms involved in sensing (receptors) and in response (secretion, ion fluxes, ...) are present.
The general objectives of these lectures are:

1) To understand the need to maintain a constant internal environment in order to keep the good conditions for biochemical reactions. Moreover, the internal environment could be a little bit different in various cell compartments (lysosomes, nucleus, ...).

2) To understand how molecules move across a compartment or through a biological membrane.
3) To understand the impact on the osmotic pressure of the diffusion of molecules.

4) To understand the phenomenon of osmosis in cell in which the molecule concentration in cytoplasm is higher than in the external fluid. This situation requires to make the cell membrane impermeant to sodium.

5) To understand the consequences on the membrane potential of the inhomogenous distribution of various ionic species on both sides of a biological membrane.

6) To understand how living beings have used the existence of this membrane potential to signalize, particularly in the nervous system.

7) To apply all these concepts to the muscular contraction.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

- To be able to explain how the cell structure is maintained meanwhile this cell assume a particular function (cell membrane permeability, cellular volume regulation, muscle contraction, transmission of nervous information ...).
- To be able to give a molecular explanation to the phenomenon characterizing the living organisms.
- To be able to give a global explanation about the complexity of the coordination system regulating the interactions between the various systems of the organism.
- To be able to describe the relationships between specific metabolic pathways and the environmental properties.
- To be able to use all these informations to start in good conditions the study of Human Physiology.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Upstream : Biology, Chemistry, Physics and General Biochemistry.
This course constitutes an introduction to Human Biochemistry, Human Physiology and Pathology.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Lectures will be ex cathedra.

The first session of laboratory works will be organized remotly available on e-campus.  The two others are organized lively.  The first session is devoted to  mambrane potential and to the action potential. The second session is dedicated to the recording of smooth muscle contractions.  Assistance with practical work is obligatory and in the event of absence, a valid reason (medical certificate for example) must be sent within five working days. If possible, the student will then have to join another group to carry out this practical work session later. To this end, he will contact one of the three associates whose names appear at the base of this form.

An individual report must then be submitted in the week following the session. This individual report can be identical between members of the same group but each student must therefore submit a report individually.

Attendance in practical work is compulsory for students following for the first time the General Physiology course.
For the students to represent the General Physiology exam, they can again follow the practical sessions, this on a voluntary basis and after registration at the beginning of the academic year. Once enrolled, they commit themselves to be present at the session of practical work and will be subjected to the same organizational rules as the students following for the first time the course of General Physiology.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

1. General introduction, homeostasis. 1. Homeostasis of internal environment.
2. Physico-chemical basis of internal regulation. 2. Diffusion and cell membrane permeability. 3. Osmotic pressure and water displacements. 3. Ionic channels and excitable membranes. 4. Ionic channels. 5. Electrical consequences of ionic gradients. 6. Passive electrical properties of cell membranes. 7. Action potential onset and propagation. 8. Ionic channels diversity. 4. Solutes transports.9. Electrochemical potential energy 10. Passive transport of solutes 11. Active transport. 5. Message Transduction. 12. Ligand-receptor couple and second messengers. 6. Molecular motors. 13 Excitation/contraction coupling in muscles.

Recommended or required readings

Syllabus is available September either written (Presses Universitaires) or electronically (files available in Intranet). All the files used for lectures (illustrations and resumes) will also be available just before each lectures. The students will be referred to some internet references. Finally all lectures will be recorded and available through pod-cast on Intranet.
All the recent books dedicated to General Physiology or Cellular Physiology can be used but are not mandatory. For examples :

- Physiologie des Régulations par E. Schoffeniels et G. Moonen, Masson

- Cell Biology, T.D Pollard and W.C. Earnshaw, Saunders

- Cellular Physiology, M.P. Blaustein, J.P.Y. Kao and D.R. Matteson, Elsevier Mosby.

- Molecular Cell Biology, Lodish, Berk, Zipursky, Matsudeira, Baltimore and Darnell, Freeman.

- Cell Physiology Sourcebook, a molecular approach. Ed by Nicholas Sperelakis, Academic Press.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( multiple-choice questionnaire )

Additional information:

The exam will consist of multiple choices questions. Questions will be dedicated to various aspects developed during the ex-cathedra lectures or during practical work sessions.  These aspects are noting more than an experimental approach of various concepts explained during the ex-cathedra lectures.
The results will be +1 if response is correct, 0 if there is no response and -1 if the response is incorrect. If practical work report is missing or if the student was absent at a practical work session without any justification, the final note (on twenty) will be decreased by one point.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Adress ULg :
Bernard Rogister,
Full Professor

Department of Biomedical and preclinical Sciences
Bât. B36 Biochimie et physiologie générales et biochimie humaine
avenue Hippocrate, 15
4000 Liège 1

Tél. ULg : 32 4 366 59 50
Courriel : Bernard.Rogister@uliege.be

Sabine Wislet
Assistant Professor
Tél. ULg : 32 4 366 38 04
Couriel : S.Wislet@uliege.be

Laurence Delacroix Assistant Professor
Tél. Ulg 32 4 366 59 05
Couriel : ldelacroix@uliege.be

Christelle Péqueux
Assistant Professor
Tél. Ulg 32 4 366 22 17
Couriel : C.Pequeux@uliege.be

Larisia Bourdoux
Tél ULg : 32 4 366 59 50
Couriel : Larisia.Bourdoux@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs