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Stuck on You

Health Complications Associated with Dysregulation of Ion Movement


Brenda F. Canine
Department of Biology
Great Falls College Montana State University
Michael L. Dini
Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University
Breanna N. Harris
Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University


In this modular case study, students discover how the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) membrane channel protein affects multiple physiological systems. The case is divided into an introductory narrative followed by five sections covering different physiological topics: genetics, cell physiology, respiration, reproduction, and microbiology. Instructors may choose to use the five parts collectively, in any order, or individually, depending upon the topics covered in their course or unit. In the introductory section, students are given background information about a family and their young son, “Tyler,” who has cystic fibrosis (CF). The genetics section presents the role of recessive inheritance and how different mutations in the CFTR protein lead to varying severity of disease while the cell physiology section examines the dysfunction of the CFTR protein. The effects of sticky mucus resulting from CFTR dysfunction is explored in the respiratory and reproduction sections. Finally, CF patients often experience recurrent or chronic respiratory tract infections and are monitored and treated carefully with antibiotics to mitigate lung function deterioration, information covered in the microbiology section. The case was developed for a physiology course in which students are following pre-medical, pre-nursing, or other allied health career paths.


  • Identify relevant signs/symptoms of cystic fibrosis.
  • Analyze lab results and identify results that are outside normal range.
  • Explain disease physiology through analysis of signs, symptoms and lab results.
  • Analyze cellular physiology and genetics to explain autosomal recessive inheritance and disease severity to identify personalized medicine treatment options.
  • Explain osmolarity and water movement across membranes including CFTR function.
  • Identify the role of mucus and inflammation in respiratory and reproductive physiology.
  • Compare normal and disease pathology in respiratory, reproductive and sweat gland function.
  • Identify mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and apply principles to therapeutic treatments.


Ion dysregulation; cystic fibrosis; CF; CFTR; recessive genetics; cell physiology; respiratory; reproductive; microbiology; antibiotic resistance; Gram staining; mucus; surfactant

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Anatomy  |   Cell Biology  |   Genetics / Heredity  |   Medicine (General)  |   Microbiology  |   Physiology  |  

Date Posted


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