Combined Bachelor's + Master's degree in Medicine and Surgery

Chemistry and Biological chemistry - CHIMICA BIOLOGICA

Course code
Name of lecturer
Massimo Donadelli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
2° semestre dal Feb 22, 2021 al May 28, 2021.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The aim of the module of Biomedical Chemistry is to lead to an understanding of life in chemical and molecular terms.
Training objectives
- to know how living beings synthesize and degrade carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, amino acids, nucleotides and other fundamental biological molecules;
- to know the structure and function of vitamins and hormones;
- to understand how the human body coordinates the thousands of reactions it catalyzes;
- to understand the metabolic relationships between the various tissues and organs, as well as the main systems of intercellular communication;
- to know particular topics of molecular and cellular biochemistry, such as oxygen transport, transport in biological membranes, signal transduction and the molecular mechanism of contraction;
- to acquire useful information on the biochemical bases of diseases.


- Biological membranes: molecular components, molecular transport mechanisms and signal transduction.
-Proteins: Hemoglobin A structure and function, hemoglobin S, myoglobin, contractile proteins. Protein glycosylation.
- Metabolic biochemistry: introduction to metabolism, anabolic and catabolic processes, metabolic pathway design and regulation, major metabolic control mechanisms, intracellular compartmentation.
- Bioenergetics: general principles and thermodynamic chemistry, oxidation potential, "energy-rich" chemical bonds. ATP: its role in energy utilization. Substrate level phosphorylation. Mitochondria, respiratory chain and its components, oxidative phosphorylation, coupling of oxidative phosphorylation to electron transport, chemiosmotic mechanism, decoupling agents and oxidative phosphorylation inhibitors.
- Metabolism of glucids. Glucose 6 phosphate: synthesis and utilization. Glycolysis. Conversion of pyruvate to acetylCoA. Aerobic Glucose Oxidation: Shuttle Systems. Pasteur effect and Warburg effect. Metabolism of cancer cells. Pentose phosphate pathway. Gluconeogenesis. Metabolic interconversion between sugars. Synthesis and degradation of glycogen. Regulation of the glucose metabolism. Energy balance of metabolic pathways. Intracellular location of glucid metabolic steps. Metabolism of ethanol.
- Lipid metabolism. Beta-oxidation of odd and even carbon atom fatty acids, saturated or unsaturated. Alpha-oxidation of fatty acids. Ketogenesis. Biosynthesis of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and fatty acid elongation reactions. Biosynthesis of neutral fats, phospholipids, glycolipids. Lipid metabolism regulation. Energy balance of lipid metabolic pathways. Intracellular location of lipid metabolic steps. Cholesterol Metabolism. Pharmacological inhibition of the cholesterol biosynthesis. Plasma lipoproteins, structural characteristics and physiological role.
- Protein metabolism. Proteolytic enzymes. General amino acid metabolism: transaminations, oxidative and non-oxidative deamination. Fate of the alpha-amino nitrogen of the amini acids in various animal species (ammotelism, ureotelism, uricotelism). Ornithine cycle and genesis of urea . Catabolism of the carbon skeleton of Amino Acids: Gluco- and Cheto-Genic Amino Acids. Transmethylation. Other products of amino acid metabolism: biosynthesis and degradation of heme group. Iron metabolism. Biosynthesis of the physiologically active amines, nitric oxide. Essential and non-essential amino acids. Notes on the synthesis of each amino acid. Regulation of protein metabolism. Energy balance of protein metabolic pathways. Intracellular location of protein metabolic steps.
- Terminal metabolism: general concepts. The cycle of tricarboxylic acids, its energy aspects and regulation. Citric Cycle Related Reactions: Metabolic Routes Using Citric Cycle Intermediates, reactions which furnish Intermediates, Glyoxylate pathway.
- Regulation of the metabolism, tissue integration of the metabolism and signal transduction: hormonal regulation of energy metabolism, action of the major hormones, regulation of hormone secretion, target tissues and hormone receptors. The adenylate cyclase signal system: the role of the cyclic AMP and Proteins G. The pathway of phosphoinositide. The insulin receptor and other similar receptors with tyrosine kinase activity. Steroids and thyroid hormones: intracellular receptors. Oncogenes and cellular signal transmission. Hormonal regulation of calcium: parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, vitamin D.
- Nucleotide metabolism: the "de novo" biosynthesis of purinic and pyrimidine nucleotides, nucleotide synthesis inhibitors, "recovery" biosynthetic pathways, digestion and absorption of nucleotides, purine and pyrimidine catabolism, uric acid and hyperuricemia.
- Homeostasis of body weight. Daily caloric requirement.
- Nutrients, antinutrients (protease inhibitors, lectins, oxalate, citrate, phytate, etc.) and toxic substances. Inorganic nutrients: mineral salts.
- Nutrient sources: cereals and derivatives, legumes, vegetables, vegetables, fruit, oils, fats, milk and derivatives, eggs, meat, fishery products, alcoholic beverages.
- Starch resistant. Dietary fibre: structure and metabolism, prevention of diseases, relationship with the microbiota.
- Digestion of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins: enzymes and other molecules involved in digestion. Neuro-hormonal control of digestion.
- Absorption of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins: specific transport mechanisms through the epithelial cells of the intestine.
- Iron absorption, transport, storage and excretion.
- Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins: structure, function, absorption and transport. Amount of vitamins in food and recommended daily amounts.
- Glycemic index and glycemic load: meaning and possibility of use in complex diets.
- Oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation: chemical reactions and the role of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants. Oxidative stress and diseases. Diet and antioxidant defences.

Assessment methods and criteria

The examination of the "Biological Chemistry" module consists of a written test composed by questions with multiple responses, a description of biochemical reactions or metabolic pathways and of their regulation. The oral examination, which is accessed after passing the written test, consists of an interview aimed at assessing the student's ability to use chemical and biochemical knowledge for the interpretation of physiological and pathological phenomena in humans.

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