Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The successful student is provided with fundamentals and approaches to the holistic study of the physiology and of the metabolic pathways of cellular systems. The student is familiar with the dynamic metabolic complexity of cells, tissues and organisms, and able to integrate this information with genomic, proteomic and interactome data in order to infer cellular responses to particular stresses or growth conditions and distinguish between pathological and physiological states.

Course contents

  • Introduction to metabolomics: definition and significance in system biology.
  • The chemical components of the cells: the structural diversity and number of metabolites in biological systems.
  • Chemical reactions in cells: free energy and activation energy, coupled reactions, the enymes, how enzymes work, specificity, kinetics of enzymes, regulation of enzymatic activity.
  • Metabolism an overview: cell metabolism is organized in pathways, the key molecules in metabolism (ATP, NADH, NADPH, Acetyl CoA).
  • Carbohydrate metabolism: the molecular structure and behaviour of carbohydrates. Glycolysis, citric acid cycle, gluconeogenesis, glycogen degradation and biosynthesis, pentose phosphate pathway.
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Lipid metabolism: utilization of triacylglycerols in animals, fatty acid oxidation, fatty acid biosynthesis, metabolism of phospholipids containing glycerol, metabolism of sphingolipids, metabolism of cholesterol.
  • Metabolism of amino acids: nitrogen cycle and metabolism of nitrogen, biogenesis of organic nitrogen, amino acids biosynthesis and degradation, the transamination reactions, the urea cycle.
  • Nucleotide metabolism: biosynthesis of purine and pyrimidine (de novo and savage pathways), degradation of purine and pyrimidine.
  • How cells capture energy from sunlight: photosynthesis and Calvin cycle.
  • Collection and preparation of samples for metabolomics: quenching, release of intracellular metabolites, metabolites in extracellular medium.
  • Analytical methodologies: chromatographyc systems, mass spectrometry, NMR spectrometry.
  • Data analysis
  • Application of metabolomics: examples of clinical and food metabolomics.


Metabolomics: From Fundamentals to Clinical Applications [https://www.springer.com/it/book/9783319476551], Editors: Sussulini, Alessandra (Ed.), 2017, Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-47655-1

Principles of Biochemistry: International Edition
David L. Nelson, Michael Cox

Donald Voet, Judith G. Voet

Jeremy M. Berg, Lubert Stryer, John L. Tymoczko, Gregory J. Gatto

Teaching methods

Lectures with black/white-board and multimedia presentations.

Assessment methods

Written and oral test.

The written test consists of six multiple-choice questions and four open-ended questions. The oral interview will be a brief discussion about some topics treated during the course, with the aim to verify the correct tecnical language and the ability to interconnect the knowlegdes.

Teaching tools

Registered students can download lesson presentations, articles and other teaching materials through the Insegnamenti online - Supporto online alla didattica

Office hours

See the website of Anna Maria Ghelli