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Second Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[50/23]  FOOD AND NUTRITION SCIENCES [23/00 - Ord. 2017]  PERCORSO COMUNE 8 64


KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: The course aims to provide a comprehensive knowledge on the
biochemical-nutritional relevance of the main nutrients, the biochemical mechanisms that represent the bases of metabolism, the principal metabolic pathways and the control mechanisms of the metabolic pathways in normal and particular metabolic conditions (physical activity and fasting), with particular interest in the hormonal regulation and metabolic processes integration.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: Students will achieve skills on the molecular bases of the biochemical processes, of their regulation and integration that may be applied to different aspects that will be discussed in other courses, i.e. Applied Science in Dietetics, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Pathology. The students will take advantages on the comprehension of the relationship between structure and function of biomolecules at a molecular level.
MAKING JUDGEMENTS: Interpretation and comparison of scientific data.
COMMUNICATION: Ability to express the acquired knowledge showing the capability to correlate the different aspects that link together the different metabolic pathways when the metabolic and nutritional conditions change.
LEARNING SKILLS: autonomous consultation of databases, publications and information sources accredited at national and international level.


Knowledge of the basic principles of general, inorganic and organic chemistry, structural biochemistry and enzimology


Review of structural biochemistry basic concepts with particular attention to biomolecules of nutritional interest.
- Carbohydrate Metabolism: Glucose transporters: GLUT1-GLUT5. Glucose metabolic pathways: aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis (reactions and regulation). Lactic and alcoholic fermentation. Signal transduction pathways by G-protein-coupled receptors utilizing cAMP, and by tyrosine kinase receptors (insulin).
Gluconeogenesis: analysis of the reactions that bypass the irreversible reactions of glycolysis. Reaction in gluconeogenesis starting from lactate, alanine, other amino acids, glycerol, oxaloacetate. Regulatory enzymes in gluconeogenesis. Role of fructose 2,6-bisphosphate. Reactions and regulation of glycogenolysis and glycogenesis. Pentose phosphate pathway. Metabolism of other carbohydrates. Action of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. TCA cycle: reactions and regulation. Metabolic effects of insulin, glucagon and epinephrine.
- Lipids: Standard and non-standard nomenclature (ω) of fatty acids. Essential fatty acids (ω-3 and n-3). Hydrolysis of triacylglycerols. Activation and transport of fatty acids into mitochondria: carnitin shuttle. ß-oxidation reactions of saturated fatty acids with odd and even carbon atom numbers. Propionyl CoA metabolism: the role of vitamin B12. ß-oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids. Regulation of ß-oxidation. Ketone bodies: ketogenesis reactions and their metabolic roles. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase: reaction sequence for the synthesis of palmitic acid. Regulation of biosyntesis of fatty acids: role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Fatty acid desaturation and elongation reactions. Free- and esterified-cholesterol. Cholesterol derived from food and endogenous cholesterol. Plasma lipoproteins: chylomicrons, VLDL, IDL, LDL and HDL. Role of bile acids and bile salts in digestion. The enteropatic circulation. Biosynthesis of cholesterol. Covalent and trascriptional regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis (SREBP-mediated). Dietary phytosterols: structures and role in the decrease of cholesterol plasma concentration. Biosyntesis of triacylglycerols and glycerophospholipids. Regulations of lypogenic enzyme gene expression induced by a polynsaturated fatty acids diet (SREBP and SCAP).
- Ethanol metabolism: reactions catalysed by the action of alcohol dehydrogenase, aldehyde dehydrogenase and MEOS. Metabolic alterations induced by ethanol on carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms. Transcriptional regulation of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis by ethanol through SREBP-SCAP complex activation
- Liposoluble vitamines.
- Amino acid and Protein Metabolism: Protein turnover. Amino acid catabolism: transamination and oxidative deamination. Enzymes involved in protein digestion. Amino acids and peptide transport systems into enterocytes. Lysosomal proteolysis and ubiquitin-proteasome system. Metabolic fates of glucogenic, chetogenic and mixed amino acids. Essential, non-essential and conditionally essential amino acids. Metabolic effects of phenylketonuria.
-Metabolism of EME and of purinic and pyrimidinic nucleotides.
-Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics.
- Metabolic modifications in the fasting-feeding cycle with particular attention to the metabolic pathways in liver, muscle and adipose tissue, red cells and brain. Phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of the principal regulatory enzymes under the action of hormones and AMPK.

Teaching Methods

The course is given in the second semester (March-mid June) of the first year with 6 hours of lectures/week using power point slides. A tutor will help the students in approaching in a correct way the molecular level study. During the course, the students will have the opportunity to take three written tests, which wiil be evaluate for the final exam. The students that pass this written test will be admitted directly to the oral exam in the session of their preference (between those planned by the examination committee). The students that do not pass the written test (or those that did not take it) will have to take it with a oral exam.

Verification of learning

Written and Oral exam. Written exam, lasting max 2 hours, is divided into two parts: the first one is intended to verify the knowledge acquired by each student on the characteristics of the bio-molecules with nutritional interests, their molecular structures and the principal reactions in which they are involved, including enzymes and coenzymes. In the second part of the written test the student will be asked to recognize different bio-molecules of nutritional interest by looking at the molecular structures provided, to evidence details and differences among them, to specify the metabolic pathways in which they are involved. In order to be admitted to the oral exam the students should get a score of at least 18/30 in both parts of the written test.
In the oral part of the exam the student will be asked to discuss different subjects chosen by the professor between those reported in the syllabus, to write the reactions of specific metabolic pathways, to describe, using simple schemes, their regulation and the interconnections between metabolic pathways. Moreover, the student should describe the metabolic modifications involved in fasting and during different physiological conditions.
The final grade is based on the evaluation of the following parameters:
1) Appropriateness, accuracy and consistency of the knowledge and skills acquired;
2) Appropriate use of the specific language of the subject;
3) Expressive capacity;
4) Logic skills;
5) Synthetic skills;
6) Ability to connect different topics.
For the final grade the auto evaluation ability of the student will also be considered together with her/his criticisms and the ability of interacting with the teacher during the examination.
The score will be expressed in thirtieths, calculated as a weighted mean of the written text (3 CFU) and the oral exam (5 CFU)
Consequently, the judgment can be:
a) Fair (18 to 20/30)
The candidate demonstrates little knowledge acquired, superficial level, many gaps. Expressive abilities modest, but still sufficient to support a coherent dialogue; logical capacity and consequentiality in the fitting of the subjects at elementary level; poor capacity for synthesis, lack of interaction with the teacher durations interview.
b) Moderate (21 to 23)
The applicant demonstrates a discreet acquisition of knowledge but lack of depth, with a few gaps; expressive abilities more than sufficient to support a coherent dialogue; acceptable mastery of the language of science, logical capacity and consequentiality in the fitting of the arguments of moderate complexity, more than enough capacity for synthesis and the ability to graphic expression acceptable.
c) Good (24 to 26)
The candidate demonstrates a rather large knowledge, moderate depth, with small gaps; satisfactory mastery of the expressive capabilities and significant scientific language; dialogical ability and critical thinking well detectable, good capacity for synthesis and ability to graphic expression more than acceptable.
d) Outstanding (27 to 29)
The candidate demonstrates a very extensive knowledge, well depth, with marginal gaps; remarkable powers of expression and high mastery of scientific language; remarkable capacity of dialogue, good competence and relevant aptitude for logic synthesis, high capacity for synthesis and graphic expression.
e) Excellent (30)
The candidate demonstrates a very extensive and in-depth knowledge, gaps irrelevant, high capacity and high mastery of the expressive language of science; excellent capacity of dialogue, aptitude to make connections between different subjects, excellent ability to synthesize and very familiar with the expression graphics.
The praise is attributed to the candidates clearly above average, and whose notional, expressive, conceptual, and logical limits, if any, as a whole are completely irrelevant.


Reference Textbook: DL Nelson, MM Cox, Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry: Seventh Edition, WH Freeman and Company, 2017
Other textbooks for consultation:
DR Ferrier, Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry, VI ed, 2014, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
I. Cozzani, E. Dainese. Biochimica degli Alimenti e della Nutrizione- Piccin 2006
Textbook of biochemistry with clinical correlations / edited by Thomas M. Devlin. - 7th ed. - Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

More Information

Students that have regularly attended classes (≥75%) will have lecture slides available.
The professor is available for explanations to students during office hours(time schedule reported in the teacher website).
To enroll for the exam students must sign in the ESSE3 webpage of UNICA website at least 3 days before the exam.

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