84935 - In Vivo Biochemistry and Elements of Computational Biology

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Stefano Iotti
  • Credits: 9
  • SSD: BIO/12
  • Language: Italian
  • Moduli: Stefano Iotti (Modulo 1) Emil Malucelli (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Health Biology (cod. 9212)

Learning outcomes

The student will achive a detailed knowledge of the regulation of the biochemical processes in different tissues (liver, muscle, brain) together with a general overview of the main biochemical deficits generating metabolic diseases in different tissues. They will learn the advanced non invasive application of in vivo molecular diagnosis by 31P and 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Course contents


Sistematic Biochemistry

Liver. Functions and metabolic flexibility. Bile acids. Glucidic metabolism. Lipid metabolism. Protein metabolism. Detossification of xenobiotics. Protection from Oxidative damage. Ethanol metabolism.

Muscle. Contractile and regulatory proteins. Muscle contraction. Ionic channel. Calcium fluxes. Skeletal and cardiac muscle metabolism. Bioenergetics: system of energy buffers "phosphocreatine shuttle" model.

Brain. Biochemistry of the transmission of the nerve impulses. Synaptic transmission. Ectopic neurotransmission. Ephaptic coupling of cortical neurons. post-synaèptic receptors. GABA and Glutamic acid. NO and long term potentiation.

Tisuses homeostasis.

Regolatory mechanisms of tissues homeostasis. Regulation of transcription factors function. Hormones. Membrane receptors. Proteine kinases and signal transduction. G proteins.

Advanced noninvasive diagnostic techniques.

Physical principles of nuclear magnetic resonace spectroscopy (NMR). NMR application in in vivo biochemistry. Integration between holistic and reductionist approaches. In vivo 31P spectroscopy in brain and skeletal muscle (31P MRS). In vivo 1H spectroscopy in brain (1H MRS).


The “modulo 2” is composed by 8 hours of frontal lessons and 30 of Informatics laboratory on the data analysis. The main issues dealt are:

In vivo phosphorous magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P MRS). Basis on molecular bioenergetics and its assessment on different metabolic conditions. In vivo study of the metabolism and ionic traffic. Measuring the in vivo intracellular pH. Brain bioenergetics. Example of diagnostic applications.

In vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS). Metabolic meaning of the main signals detectable in vivo by 1H MRS in human brain. Example of diagnostic applications.

Cellular imaging by Synchrotron-based x-ray techniques. Basic principles on the interaction of electromagnetic waves (x ray) with cells. The application of x-ray fluorescence microscopy to map and quantify chemical elements and x-ray transmission microscopy to map the intracellular density in single cells will be illustrated. Practical activity in informatics laboratory will be performed to learn how to combine these technique to achieved the maps of intracellular concentration of chemical elements in single cells.



Biochimica Sistematica Umana

C.M. Caldarera


Fondamenti di Biochimica

D. Voet

J. Voet

C. W. Pratt


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons (mmodulo 1 and 2)

In silico laboratory (modulo 2)

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students (including all the international incoming exchange students, i.e. ERASMUS) must attend Module 1, 2 online [https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio], while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme ("studiare"--"formazione obbligatoria su sicurezza e salute").

Assessment methods


Teaching tools

Teaching material such as slides, animations, films used during lessons will be made available to studens. The printable material should be taken by the student to class.

In consideration of the type of activity and the teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity requires the prior participation of all students in the training modules 1 and 2 on safety in the study places, in e-learning mode.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Iotti

See the website of Emil Malucelli