Biochemistry of food, nutrition, and metabolic diseases

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course provides biochemical knowledge suitable for understanding the nutritional properties of food, with a particular focus on the starting materials and on food processing, acquiring a biochemical view of food allergy and intolerance. Moreover, a modern vision of nutritional biochemistry will be presented by addressing the following topics: modulation of metabolism; control and modulation of enzymes; fundamentals of signal transduction; modulation of gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels; enzymatic defects and related pathologies. On this basis, the biochemical aspects of specific nutritional and bioactive compounds, their direct anabolic/catabolic functions, and their role in activation of specific metabolic pathway will be discussed. Furthermore, will be studied the biochemical aspects related with the main metabolic diseases that may induce the development of chronic diseases.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will be able to understand the role of food components in modulating biochemical process and metabolic events within cells; familiarize with the biochemical aspects of food preparation and on their relationships to consumers' wellness; ability to evaluate of the various types of information provided by the methodological approaches used in this field.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Teaching will be offered in compliance with the regulations related to the COVID 19 emergency. Classes will be held through the Microsoft Teams platform or face-to-face in accordance with the official calendar. More specific information will be provided over the next few months, based on the evolution of the pandemic situation.
Course syllabus
UD_1 Prof.ssa Stefania Iametti
Formal classes:
-Formation and disappearance of bioactive compounds in food processing and treatment markers
- Physical denaturation of protein in food processing. Formation and disappearance of food-derived bioactives.
- Limited proteolysis: enzymatic treatments of foods. Peptide formation and protein modification.
- Molecular markers of quality: protein and genetic markers.
- Food allergens: molecular determinants of allergenicity; biochemical basis of the allergenic response
- Food intolerances
- Antigen/antibody recognition and its relevance to food safety. Strategies for the production and control of hypo-allergenic and improved-tolerance foods
- Micronutrients: bioavailability and biological functions of organic and inorganic micronutrients
- Molecular mechanisms of oxidative stress at cellular level
- Role of specific food compounds in protection against oxidative stress
- Control of gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level; nutrigenomics
- Fundamental of signal transduction: messengers, receptors, second messengers and their mode of action
- Biochemical aspects of the function of specific nutrients and bioactive compounds: anabolic and catabolic functions
- Biochemical aspects of the function of specific compounds/contaminants: role in cellular metabolism
Practical classes:
- Application of data bank for proteomic studies of food proteins
- Application of bioinformatics approaches for the characterization of proteins involved in food allergy or intolerance
- Laboratory class: detection of iron release from ferritin in different physiological conditions
- Discussion and critical analysis of "case study" related to topics treated during classes

UD_2 Alessandro Prinetti
Molecular and biochemical basis of an adequate nutrition.
Hormones controlling energy metabolism.
Metabolic cross-talk between liver and peripheral tissues.
Biochemistry of fasting.
Biochemical alterations in malnutrition and denutrition.
Ipernutrition: obesity and biochemistry of the adipose tissue.
Glucose metabolism and its alterations.
Glycemic index.
Glucose absorption.
Hypo- and hyperglycemia.
Effect of insulin on energy metabolism.
Metabolic syndrome. Metabolic basis of diabetes.
Lipid metabolism and its alterations.
Obesity and metabolic syndrome.
The link between obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and dyslipidemias.
Amino acid metabolism and its pathological alterations.
Urea cycle and its metabolic defects.
Pathological alterations of nucleotide metabolism: hyperuricemia and gout.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the structure and of the physical/chemical properties of simple biological systems. Knowledge of the macrostructural features of biological material.
Teaching methods
Formal classes (2 h each), with ample use of graphical material, available to students through the ARIEL website.
Practical classes (only UD1) are based on individual activities, either in the lab or in remote mode.
Teaching Resources
Slides used for classes will be immediatily available on the ARIEL website, along with any additional material (original papers, limks to useful websites)

Reference textbooks

UD_1 Prof.ssa Stefania Iametti
Campbell/Farrel, Biochimica, EdiSES;
Arienti, Basi Molecolari della Nutrizione, Piccin;
Avigliano/Rossi, Biochemical Aspects of Human Nutrition, Transworld Research Network;
Harper Biochimica, McGraw-Hill.

UD_2 Prof. Alessandro Prinetti
J.W. Baynes, M.H. Dominiczak - Biochimica per le discipline biomediche - Elsevier Ed.
F. Salvatore - Biochimica Umana - Idelson Gnocchi Ed.
U.Leuzzi, E.Bellocco, D.Barreca - Biochimica della nutrizione - Zanichelli Ed
Assessment methods and Criteria
Written exam with open questions, carried out face-to-face or remotely as indicated by the University in accordance with the evolution of the pandemics. The exam subjects will be the topics treated during the last complete course. Preliminary registration to the exam session through the UNIMIA system is mandatory.
Scores will be assessed according to appropriate elements in the following list:
- knowledge and understanding of course topics
- ability to elaborate course-related concepts
- critical assessment of topics
- communication skills
DSA students and students with disabilities are invited to inform the teacher by e-mail at least ten days before the exam date in order to define the possible individual actions. The e-mail should also send in cc to: (for DSA students) or (for students with disabilities).
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 8 hours
Lessons: 68 hours
by appointment
LITA Segrate/MS Teams