37201 - Metabolic Biochemistry (AK-D)

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 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows: the essential elements of the intermediate metabolism of the main biological molecules (carbohydrates, lipids and nitrogen compounds), the energy changes associated with them, their interrelationships and metabolic and hormonal regulations, as well as the localization and cell compartmentalisation of the main metabolic pathways; the specialization of various human organs and tissues in metabolic activities as a prerequisite for knowledge of their specific functions; the molecular mechanisms of cellular activity regulation with particular regard to the intracellular signal transduction and the function of hormones, other extracellular messengers and vitamins at metabolic and gene level; bio the biochemical principles that are at the basis of human nutrition with particular regard the molecular mechanisms of digestion and absorption of nutrients and essential nutrients with references to nutrigenomics.

Course contents

Carbohydrate metabolism: The citric acid cycle (TCA or Krebs cycle): reactions, energy yield, regulation. Amphibolic role of the cycle. Glycogen metabolism: glycogenosynthesis and glycogenolysis and their regulation. Gluconeogenesis: main glucogenic precursors, reactions and compartmentalization. Coordinated regulation of glycogen synthesis and degradation.

Bioenergetics: Structure of mitochondria and in particular of their internal membrane; oxidative phosphorylation. The flow of electrons through the respiratory chain; the formation of the electrochemical potential; use of the proton gradient: 1) ATP synthase and the chemosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis. Respiratory control. Inhibitors and decouplers. 2) Transport of the Ca2 + ion and metabolites through the internal mitochondrial membrane; 3) NAD + / NADPH transhydrogenase; 4) thermogenesis. The dispersion of electrons and the radical species of oxygen.

Nitrogen metabolism
: Protein digestion (acute pancreatitis); aa catabolism in humans (Pyridoxal-P, Transaminases and their use in the lab), GDH and NH3: transport of NH3, Gln and Ala; Glu-Ala cycle; NH3 toxicity. Urea cycle; connection with TCA, enzyme deficiency for urogenesis; energy balance. Transport cofactors of the monocarbon unit (Folate and S-adenosylmethionine); Notes on the catabolism of various aa proteins (6 in Pyr; 7 in Ac-SCoA; 5 in a-ketoglu; 2 in OAA)

Biosynthesis of aa, nucleotides and related molecules: essential and non-essential aa; notes on aa biosynthesis in humans; notes on the biosynthesis of porphyrins and the elimination of the heme group (bile pigments); pre-hepatic jaundice (hemolytic) post-hepatic jaundice (from obstruction); aa precursors of glutathione, creatine, biological amines (hormones, neurotransmitters, polyamines), formation of NO from arginine: outline. Nucleotide biosynthesis and catabolism (gout); recovery of purine bases (gout; Lesch-Nyhan syndrome; immunodeficiency). Ribonucleotide reductase and its modulation: outline


The same texts recommended for General Biochemistry


I principi di Biochimica di Lehninger , 7° Ed. Nelson DL e Cox MM (Zanichelli)

Biochimica 5° Ed. Devlin TM ( Edises )

Biochimica, 3° Ed. Mathews CK, van Holde KE, Ahern KG (Ambrosiana)

Biochimica, 5° Ed. Berg JM, Timoczko JL, Stryer L. (Zanichelli)

Biochimica medica Lieberman M., Marks AD (Ambrosiana)

Biochimica Werner M-E ( Idelson -Gnocchi)

Teaching methods

Lectures and exercises with students' request for active participation

Assessment methods

The Metabolic Biochemistry exam consists of an interview held by the student with the professors of the course itself (Prof. G. Solaini, Prof. A. Baracca, Prof. C. Pignatti, Prof. G. Sgarbi).

Gradation of the final grade:

Poor preparation and on a limited number of topics covered in the course → sufficient / mediocre evaluations.

Good preparation on different topics covered in the course and good ability to carry out an in-depth analysis and links between different aspects of the topics discussed → fair / good evaluations

Comprehensive preparation on the topics covered in the course, excellent ability to carry out an in-depth analysis and links between different aspects of the topics discussed, and mastery of specific terminology → excellent / excellent assessments. 

The various partial grades, in proportion to the number of credits, contribute to the grade out of thirty in Metabolic Biochemistry. Before taking the oral exam of Metabolic Biochemistry, the student must take and pass the written test of Chemistry and General Biochemistry. The marks obtained in the module of Chemistry, Metabolic Biochemistry and Molecular Biology contribute to the definition of the mark of the C.I. of Biochemistry, which will correspond to the weighted average based on the CFU of the respective modules of the C.I.

Teaching tools

Use of slides from texts and monographs integrated with slides depicting original diagrams and figures. Occasional use of videos whose scientific validity has been assessed

Office hours

See the website of Michele Di Foggia