Learning outcomes of the course unit
1. Knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:
- know the general properties of the proteins involved in the metabolism of nutrients (enzymes, transmembrane transport proteins, protein carriers)
- know how to reconstruct the pathways of metabolism-absorption-transport for all the nutrients covered by the course
- know how to associate each micronutrient to a biological function and to deficiency states
- represent and describe the chemical structures of the main nutrients
2. Applying knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:
- calculate the calorie content of food based on its molecular composition
- interpret simple plots representing experimental data
3. Communication skills. At the end of the course the student is expected to be able to:
- communicate the topics in a clear, concise and effective way
- describe the chemical structures of the main nutrients
- describe the structure of proteins
4. Learning skills. At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to make connections between the topics covered in this course and other courses (particularly in the fields of Biochemistry and Physiology)
Biochemistry (2nd year)
Course contents summary
The course will be focused on nutritional biochemistry. An introductory part will illustrate some general biochemical aspects of nutritional biochemistry (enzymes involved in the metabolism of nutrients, transmembrane transport systems, plasma carriers). The following part will focus on the metabolism of specific macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and lipids), inorganic micro- and macroelements and vitamins. For each group of nutrients, the main metabolic, absorption, distribution and cellular metabolism pathways will be illustrated. In the final part, the course will focus on biochemical aspects specific to animals.
• Nutritional Biochemistry: introduction and general aspects.
• The physiology of the gastrointestinal tract, a biochemical overview.
• Calories, Energy Balance, Calorie Requirements, RDA
• Transmembrane transport, general aspects; Transporters, channels, pumps. Biochemical bases of endocytosis; clatrine.
• Enzymes involved in digestion: general aspects. Catalytic mechanisms of hydrolysis.
• Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates: aspects of carbohydrate structure, digestion, absorption, metabolic fate; Hormone regulation of blood glucose, diabetes, biochemical markers of diabetes.
• Digestion and lipid absorption: the structure of food lipids; digestion, absorption and metabolic fate; Essential fatty acids; hyperlipidemia
• Digestion and protein absorption: protein structure, essential amino acids; digestion; pathologies associated with the malabsorption of amino acids.
• Absorption of ethanol.
• Minerals: Absorption, transport and biochemical role of calcium, iron, copper, sodium, potassium, chlorides, iodides.
• Vitamins: classification and general aspects. Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C, Vitamin A: Transport, Distribution, Biochemical Role, Deficiencies.
The teaching material will be made available on a weekly basis and loaded on the Elly platform. The teaching material includes all the slides.
“Biochimica degli Alimenti e della Nutrizione”- Ivo Cozzani, Enrico Dainese
“Biochimica della Nutrizione” - Ugo Leuzzi, Ersilia Bellocco, Davide Barreca
The teaching activities will be carried out in the form of lectures, with short classroom exercises aimed at the student's self-assessment. Each frontal lesson will be preceded by a short summary of the previous lessons. For part I (drug targets), the students will be offered, on a voluntary basis, the possibility to read and subsequently discuss with the teacher a review paper on a topic of their choice. For part II (biochemical methodologies), the teacher, when possible, will bring and explain small instrument in the classroom. Before the exam, the students will be given the opportunity, in small groups, to visit the Biochemistry laboratories.
Assessment methods and criteria
The assessment of the achievements will be carried out in an oral exam in the dates established in the official exam schedule. Three questions will be asked on the main topics of the course. One will concern the metabolism of macronutrients (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates), one the inorganic macro- and microelements and one the vitamins (structure, biological role, deficiency states). The purpose of the exam is to ascertain the knowledge and understanding of the contents illustrated in the lectures. The scoring, on a scale 0-30, will take into account the level of analysis, the ability to critically apply the knowledge, the appropriateness of the scientific language and the autonomy in the discussion. A lower passing grade (18-23 / 30) corresponds to a basic knowledge of the main contents, even if the answer is not given in total autonomy. A higher score (26-27 / 30) will require more detailed knowledge, good scientific vocabulary and partial autonomy in the discussion. The highest scores (28-30 / 30) are awarded for an excellent level of knowledge and communication skills. The “lode” is awarded if the maximum score for all the questions is reached and the discussion is led by the student in full autonomy. If the candidate is completely unable to answer - even in its fundamental points - to one of the three general questions, the exam will be considered insufficient. Students diagnosed with specific learning disorders (DSA), certified in accordance with law No. 170/2010, will be able to take the exams in the forms required by law.