85059 - Biochemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The student should acquire the knowledge of the basic molecular processes characterizing the cell functions. At the end of the lessons the student will know the chemical structure and the organization of main biomolecules. Furthermore, the student will understand the bioenergetics of living organisms and the mechanisms of energy production. Aim of this course is to supply the students with the basic knowledge required to understand the metabolism and the molecular processes that underlie movement and training.

Course contents


Atoms and ions. The chemical bond. Molecules and chemical formula. Proprieties of water. Aqueous solutions. Acids and base. The pH scale.  The chemistry of carbon. Bioelements.


Structure and function of the main biomolecules. Carbohydrates.  Lipids. Amino acids and proteins Nucleotides and nucleic acids


Enzymes and chemical reactions. Bioenergetics. Energy and cells. Structure, function and formation of ATP. The respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation.


Oxygen-binding proteins . Hemoglobin. Red cells and erithropoietin. Myoglobin. Reactive Oxygen Species. Antioxidants and defense mechanisms.


The skeletal muscle fibers. Molecular mechanism of muscle contraction. Introduction to physical exercise.


Cell communication and cell signaling. Ligands and receptors. Basic signal transduction. Hormones and cellular cross talking. Basic biochemistry of main hormones. Catecholamines. Glucagon. Insulin. IGF-I. Growth hormone. Myostatin. Adipokines. Steroid hormones. Catabolism and anabolism. Metabolic regulation. Transport across biological membranes. A survey of metabolism. Main characteristics of blood, muscle, liver, brain and adipose tissue.


Carbohydrate metabolism. Regulation of blood glucose. Transport and fate of glucose in the cell. Glycogenolysis and glycogenosynthesis. Glycolisis. The fate of pyruvate. Formation of lactate.  Regulation and energetic of glycolysis. The pentose phosphate pathway. Gluconeogenesis. The conversion of pyruvate into glucose. Gluconeogenetic precursors.

The citric acid cycle. The formation of acetyl-CoA. Reactions and scope of the citric acid cycle. Regulation of the cycle. Energy production.

Lipid Metabolism. Triacylglicerols  and adipocytes. Lipolysis and transport. Cellular metabolism of fatty acids. The role of carnitine. The oxidation of fatty acids. Energetics of beta-oxidation. Formation of ketone bodies. The biosynthesis of lipids. The synthesis of fatty acids and its regulation. Essential fatty acids. Leptin. Metabolism of cholesterol.

Metabolism of amino acids and proteins. The amino acid pool. A survey of amino acid metabolism. Protein turnover. Hormonal regulation of protein synthesis and degradation: catabolic and anabolic effectors. Proteins as amino acid source. Transamination. Oxidative deamination. The fate of ammonia and the urea cycle. Ketogenetic and glucogenetic amino acids. Metabolism of branched chain amino acids.


Muscle biochemistry and metabolism during exercise.Energy demand and energy stores in the muscle cell. Muscle glycogen. Intramuscle triacylglicerols.  The role of phosphocreatine. Function of myokinase. Classification and metabolic characteristics of muscle fibers. The red muscle.  The white muscle. Aerobic and anaerobic metabolisms: the bioergonic systems. ATP synthesis during anaerobic activity. The recycling of lactate.  The Cori and glucose-alanine cycles. Basics of adaption to training.


Di Giulio, Fiorilli, Stefanelli. Biochimica per le Scienze motorie. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana 2011

Nelson, Cox.  Lehninger princples of Biochemistry. 7th edition, 2017

Teaching methods

Traditional lectures (48 hours)

Assessment methods

The learning assessment is conducted through a written final examination at the end of lessons (twenty multiple choice questions plus two specific questions about general biochemistry and metabolic biochemistry). The course unit of Biochemistry is part of the integrated course of "Human Biochemistry and Nutrition" (together with the unit "Human Nutrition”).

Teaching tools

All slides shown during the lessons are available in the IOL repository.

Office hours

See the website of Claudio Stefanelli