00061 - Biochemistry

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The main objective of this course of Biochemistry is to provide basic knowledge on the following items:

  • the main classes of biomolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enzymes;
  • the mechanism used by biomolecules to permit cells and tissues to manage;
  • the bioenergetic principles;
  • the metabolism of the main biomolecules in different tissues and organs.

Course contents

Propedeutical Biochemistry (very short hints)

Main class of inorganic and bioinorganic compounds: elements, hydrides, oxides and their derivatives (acids and bases), salts and their nomenclature.

Oxidation state. Redox reactions. Standard reduction potentials.

Solutions. Properties of electrolytic and not electrolytic solutions. Expressing concentration  of solutions.

Colligative properties, in particular osmotic pressure and its biological importance. Isotonic solutions.

Chemical reactions: kinetics. Chemical equilibrium. Equilibrium constants. Factors influencing the chemical equilibrium. Le Chatelier's principle.

The pH concept. pH scale. Acid-base theories. Ionic equilibria in aqueous solution: dissociation of acids and bases. P olyprotic acids. Salts. Buffer solutions and the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. Biological buffers. 

Main classes of organic compounds: aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, alkyl halogenides, alcohols, phenols, amines, aldehydes and ketones, carboxylic acids and their derivatives (esters, amides, anhydrides).

Structure and properties of the main biologically important organic compounds. Optically active compounds. Carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Lipids: fatty acids, mono-, di- and tri-glycerides, phospholipids. Purines and pirimidines. Nucleosides, nucleotides (AMP, ADP, ATP), polynucleotides: DNA and RNA.



Distinctive functional groups. Essential and nonessential aminoacids. Classes of aminoacids. The peptide bond.


Protein structure and functions. Primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins. Fibrous and globular proteins: characteristics and functions. Keratins, collagen. Native form. Reversible and irreversible denaturation of proteins.

Myoglobin and hemoglobin

Oxygen and carbon dioxide transport. Allosteric proteins: hemoglobin and its allosteric modulators (H+ , CO2 , 2,3BPG).


General characteristics, distribution and classification of enzymes. Mechanism of enzyme action. Enzyme kinetics: Michaelis-Menten model. Enzyme affinity and efficiency. Enzymatic dosage. Modulation of enzymatic activity: influence of pH and temperature. Allosteric and covalent modulation. Vitamin-derived coenzymes. Enzyme inhibition: antimetabolite drugs. Irreversible enzyme activation. Isozymes and their diagnostic importance.


Gibbs free energy: Δ G e Δ G'°. “High energy” bonds. “High energy” species (1,3 BPG, PEP, phosphocreatine and ATP). ATP: metabolic role and synthesis mechanism ( mitochondrial ATP production, substrate level phosphorylation).  Energetically coupled reactions.


Essential concepts on metabolism: catabolic and anabolic pathways. Importance of ATP and reduced coenzymes for the catabolic and anabolic pathways.   

Carbohydrate metabolism : digestion of carbohydrates; glycogen metabolism; glycolysis and substrate level phosphorylation for ATP synthesis. Piruvate metabolism: lactate formation and oxidative decarboxylation and acetyl coenzyme A formation. Krebs cycle. Pentose phosphate cycle ( hints) . Gluconeogenesis.

Lipid metabolism . Digestion of lipids. Plasmatic lipoproteins. Triglycerides catabolism and beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Lipogenesis. Ketogenesis. Cholesterol metabolism and functions. Bile acids and steroid hormones.

Mitochondrial respiratory chain, ATP production. Chemiosmotic model.

Protein metabolism . Digestion of proteins. Aminoacids degradation. Urea cycle.


R. Roberti, G. Alunni Bistocchi, C. Antognelli, V.N. Talesa

Biochimica e Biologia per le professioni sanitarie

Seconda Edizione, McGraw Hill, 2013

M. Stefani, N. Taddei

Chimica, Biochimica e Biologia applicata

Seconda Edizione, Zanichelli, 2008

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

Oral examination to assess achievement of the skills detailed in the learning outcomes.

Teaching tools

Teaching material can be downloaded through AMS CAMPUS.

Office hours

See the website of Anna Tinti