Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: Agatina CAMPISI

Expected Learning Outcomes

Provide to the students adequate informations on the major metabolic pathways and biochemical processes occurring in the human body.

Course Structure

Frontal teaching lessons will be carried out. Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes with respect to previous statements, in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus. Learning assessment may also be carried out on line, should the conditions require it.

Required Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of Biology, general and inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

Attendance of Lessons

Mandatory (at least 70% of lessons) according to the rules of the CdS teaching regulations in CTF as reported in the following link:

Detailed Course Content

Traduzione del testo

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Testo di origine

AMINO ACIDS. Structure, classification, functions, chemical-physical properties of amino acids: solubility, acid-base properties, optical properties.

PEPTIDES AND PROTEINS. Peptide bond. Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins. Chemical-physical properties of proteins; molecular weight, isoelectric point, solubility. Denaturation and renaturation of proteins. Protein folding. Protein domain and motif. Fibrous proteins: structure of alpha-keratin, collagen and silk fibroin. Oxygen transporting chromoproteins: myoglobin and hemoglobin; structural and functional differences; factors that influence the binding of hemoglobin to oxygen; allosteric behavior of hemoglobin; role of hemoglobin in the transport of carbon dioxide; buffering action of hemoglobin; physiological forms and pathological variants of hemoglobin.

ENZYMES: Nomenclature and classification. General properties: catalytic capacity, specificity towards the substrate, effect on the activation energy of the reaction. Enzyme cofactors: metal ions and coenzymes. Properties and conformation of the active site, enzyme-substrate interaction models, bonds involved in the formation of the enzyme-substrate complex. Factors that influence the speed of enzymatic reactions. Kinetics of enzymatic reactions: Michaelis-Menten constant. Lineweaver-Burk equation. Enzyme unit, specific activity. Enzyme inhibition. Enzyme regulation mechanisms: regulation of synthesis (induction and repression) and degradation. Regulation of enzymatic activity: covalent modifications of enzymes. Isoenzymes.

VITAMINS. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, E) and water-soluble (vitamin C and B vitamins).

METABOLISM. Anabolic, catabolic and amphibolic pathways.

CARBON METABOLIME. Review of the structure and properties of the main monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. GLUT transporters. Glycolysis. Lactic and alcoholic fermentation. Gluconeogenesis. Choir cycle. Glucose-alanine cycle. Pentose phosphate shunt. Glycogen metabolism. Metabolism of fructose, mannose and galactose.

TRICARBOSYLIC ACIDS CYCLE. Pyruvate transport into mitochondria. Pyruvic dehydrogenase and mechanism of action.

MITOCHONDRIAL BIOENERGETICS. Oxidation-reduction reactions of biological interest. Transport of metabolites across the inner mitochondrial membrane. Transfer of reducing equivalents from the cytoplasm to the mitochondria (shuttle systems). The respiratory chain and its components. Regulation of respiratory activity. Structure and function of ATP synthase. Uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation. Main inhibitors of the electron transport chain.

LIPIDS METABOLISM. Review of the structures and properties of fatty acids, acylglycerols, phospholipids and cholesterol. Digestion and absorption of lipids. Chylomicrons and plasma lipoproteins. Oxidation of the main classes of fatty acids (even and odd, saturated and unsaturated). Formation of ketone bodies in normal and pathological conditions. Lipogenesis. Cholesterol biosynthesis and its regulation. Diseases resulting from impaired lipid metabolism (dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis).

PROTIDE METABOLISM. Digestion and absorption of proteins. Transamination and decarboxylation of amino acids. Oxidative and non-oxidative deamination. Urea cycle. Oxidative degradation of the carbon skeleton of amino acids.

HEME METABOLISM. Heme biosynthesis and degradation, jaundice, porphyrias.

NUCLEOTIDE METABOLISM. Nucleotide metabolism and its regulation: de novo biosynthesis of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides, recovery pathways, uricogenesis. Gout, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SIGNAL TRANSMISSION. Classification of hormones and cellular receptors. Hormonal signal transduction pathways.

INTEGRATION OF METABOLISM. Metabolic inter-relationships between the various organs.

FREE RADICALS AND DEFENSE MECHANISMS. Definition and physico-chemical characteristics of free radicals, endogenous production, toxicity and defense mechanisms (enzymatic and non-enzymatic).


Textbook Information

1. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. Lehninger's principles of biochemistry. Edition VIII. Ed. Zanichelli.

2. Siliprandi N., Tettamanti G. Medical Biochemistry. Edition IV. Ed. Piccin.

3. Voet D., Voet J.V., Pratt C.W. Fundamentals of Biochemistry. Edition IV. Publisher Zanichelli.

4. Berg J.M., Tymozcho B.J.L, Gatto G.J, Stryer L. Biochemistry. Edition VIII. Publisher Zanichelli. 

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Amino acids, peptides and proteins. Primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary structure of proteins and stabilizing bonds of these structures. Fibrous  and globular proteins. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 3: pag. 73-104. Capitolo 4: pag. 111-141.
2Heme Porfirine and heme group. Structure of myoglobin, hemoglobin and globin chains. Classification of globin chains. Hemoglobin and myoglobin oxygen saturation curve. Hemoglobin as an allosteric protein. Structure of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin. Bohr effect; 2.3 BPG. Hemoglobin and blood transport of CO2. Hemoglobin and acid-base balance regulation. Fetal hemoglobin. Molecular basis of hemoglobinopathies and thalassemias.Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 5: pag 155-172.
3Vitamins and coenzymes. Siliprandi N. Edizione IV. Ed. Piccin. Capitolo 8 pag 159-205
4Enzymes: definition, distribution, nomenclature, mechanism of action, specificity, affinity, isoenzymes, multi-enzymatic systems. Enzymatic kinetics: catalytic mechanisms, factors that influence the reaction rate, determination of enzymatic activity and the Michaelis-Menten constant. Lineweaver-Burk diagram or diagram of reciprocal doubles.Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 6: pag. 187-234.
5Factors affecting enzymatic activity. Enzyme inhibition, enzyme regulation: allosteric, multiple, covalent modifications, association/dissociation, induction. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 6 pag 224-233.
6Energy metabolism: Mitochondrial respiratory chain and its regulation, inhibitors and uncouplers; respiratory control; decoupling. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 19 pag 685-718.
7Nucleic acids: DNA and RNA: structures and functions.Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 25 pag 947-1025
8General characteristics of signal transduction. Signal transduction pathways. Seven- transmembrane receptors, G proteins, effector enzymes (adenylate cyclase, phospholipase C), second messengers (cAMP, IP3, DAG, Ca2+). Phosphoinositide cycle. PKA and PKC. Cyclical GMP and NO. Receptors with tyrosine kinase activity. Kinasic cascade. Pathway of MAP kinases. Regulation of transcription by steroid hormones. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 12 pag 429-478.
9Metabolic and physiological effects, receptors, signal transduction pathways of the following hormones: insulin, glucagon, adrenaline, cortisol. Voet D. Capitolo 13 pag 428-468
10Carbohydrate metabolism and its regulation: Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates; glycogenosynthesis, glycogenolysis, glycolysis, Krebs cycle, pentose pathway, gluconeogenesis. Metabolism of glucuronic acid, fructose and galactose. Formation of other monosaccharides from glucose. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 14 pag 533-574.
11Lipid metabolism and its regulation: functions and classification of lipids; Transport of blood lipids (plasma lipoproteins); Beta-oxidation, alpha-oxidation and omega-oxidation of saturated fatty acids. Ketogenesis and utilization of ketone bodies. Lipogenesis. Biosynthesis of cholesterol and its regulation; Diseases of impaired lipid metabolism (dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis). Nelson D.L., Cox M.M..VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitlo 17 pag 625-645 
12Protein metabolism and its regulation: transamination, decarboxylation, desamination. Metabolic destiny of ammonia, urea cycle, metabolism of the main amino acids (cysteine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, polyamine, aspartate, glutamate, phenylalanine and thyroxine). Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 18 pag 651-680.
13Heme metabolism: biosynthesis, degradation, jaundice, porphyrias. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 22 pag 823-852.
14Nucleotide metabolism and its regulation: ex novo biosynthesis of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides, recovery pathways, uricogenesis. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 22 pag 853-864.
15Detoxification processes. Hepatic metabolism of ethanol. Free radicals and defense mechanisms: definition and physicochemical characteristics of radicals, endogenous radical formation and toxicity, enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems, pathologies with radical etiology. Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. VIII. Ed. Zanichelli. Capitolo 13 pag 487-525.

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

The learning assessment consists of a written and/or oral test. Verification of learning can also be carried out electronically, should conditions require it.

For students attending the course there is an ongoing assessment test with open-ended questions. The test, once the minimum score of 18/30 has been passed, will contribute to the final evaluation.

The final evaluation (exam grade) will be carried out based on the relevance of the answers to the questions asked, the quality of the contents, the ability to connect the topics covered by the program, the ability to formulate examples, the ownership of technical language and the overall expressive ability of the student.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

1. Enzyme kinetics. Glycolysis. Krebs cycle. Beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Fate of ammonia.

2. Hemoglobin and Myoglobin. Glycogeno synthesis and glycogeno lysis. Blood sugar regulation. Deamination.

3. Allosteric enzymes. Gluconeogenesis. Beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Ketogenesis. Transaminases.