cod. 1008497

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Biochimica (BIO/10)
Discipline del settore biomolecolare
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

At the end of the course the students should demonstrate the understanding of the general logic of metabolism, the consequences of nutrition on health status, the specific characteristics of the metabolism of individual organs and the relationship between nutrition, gene expression and genetics. In detail, the student must be able to:
1) describe the function and structure of biological macromolecules and of relevant molecules of metabolism (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
2) describe the main metabolic pathways and explain the chemical logic of metabolism (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
3) describe the main signal transduction pathways involved in the regulation of metabolism (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
4) explain the main mechanisms by which nutrition can influence gene expression (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
5) indicate examples of how gene variants are associated with differential response to nutrients (KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
6) identify common themes in the metabolism and establish links in metabolic pathways (APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
7) describe the main mechanisms of metabolism integration (ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING)
8) explain the topics of the course effectively with a language that uses appropriate scientific terminology (COMMUNICATION AND LEARNING SKILLS)


Knowledge of general Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and basics of Anatomy is required.

Course unit content

Metabolism, bioenergetics and properties of the main classes of biomolecules. Water, ethanol, vitamins.
The main metabolic pathways, their integration and the molecular mechanisms of the hormonal regulation of metabolism.
Basics of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics.

Full programme

* Definition of nutrients, nutrigenomics, and nutrigenetics. Bioenergetics.
* Carbohydrates: chemical and nutritional properties
- General overview glucose metabolism and hexokinase isoforms
- Fructose metabolism and its regulation. Dysmetabolisms of fructose.
- Metabolism of galactose and the Leloir pathway.
- Disaccharides. Chemical properties and digestion. Lactose synthesis. Lactose intolerance.
- Polysaccharides: Properties of starch, glycogen, and dietary fiber.
* Lipids of food interest: triglycerides and nomenclature of fatty acids.
- General overview of the biosynthesis and degradation of fatty acids.
- The desaturation of FAs in mammals and plants. LA and derivatives (AA); ALA and derivatives (EPA, DHA)
- Nutrigenomics of FADS5 and FADS6
- Lipoproteins: structure, function. Lipoprotein metabolism: exogenous and endogenous pathways.
- Cholesterol and bile acids.
* Proteins as nutrients: essential amino acids. The pool of free amino acids.
- Nitrogen balance. Food protein quality and limiting amino acid.
- Amino acids as precursors of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Phenylketonuria.
* Metabolism of ethanol.
- Alcohol dehydrogenase. MEOS. Aldehyde dehydrogenase.
- Genetic variants of ADH and ALDH: impact on ethanol metabolism and susceptibility to alcohol abuse.

General concepts of biosignaling: first messenger, second messenger, effectors. The transduction systems. Receptor classes.
* Intracellular receptors.
- Structure, function, and activation.
- NR-mediated nutrition sensing: PPAR and LXR examples. vitD.
- Endocrine disruptors that bind NR
Membrane receptors.
*G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR)
- Structure, function, and activation.
- G proteins: molecular switches.
- The AC pathway. Signal transduction pathways mediated by glucagon and control of glucose homeostasis.
- The phosphoinositide pathway. CaM.
- Ghrelin
* Membrane transport systems.
- Carriers.
- GLUT: mechanism. Absorption of glucose.
* The tyrosine kinase receptors
- Structure, function, and activation.
- Grb-2. The Ras / MAPK route.
- The insulin receptors. Metabolic effects of insulin (biosynthesis of FA; glycogen synthesis; stimulation of glycolysis)
- Recombinant insulin as a drug and diabetes.
*Tyrosine kinase-associated receptors
- Structure, function, and activation.
- Mechanism of action of erythropoietin.
- The adipokines leptin and adiponectin.
* The nutrition/fasting cycle: hormonal and metabolic response

Introduction to vitamins: definition; vitamers; stability; conversion into biologically active forms.
Structure, vitamers, activation, biological role, toxicity and deficiency-associated pathologies of the following vitamins:
* Pyridoxine (vit B6)
* Niacin (vit B3).
*Riboflavin (vit B2)
* Thiamine (vit B1)
* Biotin (vit B7 / H)
* Cyanocobalamin (vit B12)
* Folic acid (vit B9)
* Pantothenic acid (vit B5)
* Ascorbic acid (vit C)
* Vitamin K
* Retinol (vit A)
* Cholecalciferol (vit D)
* Tocopherol (vit E)


Arienti “Le basi molecolari della nutrizione”, 4° edizione, Piccin
Siliprandi e Tettamanti “Biochimica Medica”, 5° edizione, Piccin
Leuzzi “Biochimica della nutrizione”, Zanichelli

Teaching methods

The teaching activities will be carried out in the form of lectures.
The teaching activities will be carried out through lectures with the help of slides that will be made available weekly on the Elly website.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will cover all the topics in the program. The exam consists of a written test that contains two open questions and a multiple choice test. The final mark (on a 18-30 scale) is given by the evaluation of the correctness of the answers and of the candidate's ability to present topics covered in the course with appropriateness of language, ability to synthesize and ability to insert the topics in the general framework of metabolism.

Students with a diagnosis of specific learning disorders (SLD), certified in accordance with law n ° 170/2010, will be granted the facilities provided for by law.

Other information