Natural antioxidants, vitamins and phytosterols

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Aim of this course is to provide knowledge on intake, bioavailability and biological activity of natural antioxidants, both derived from officinal plants and foods. Moreover, students will have knowledge on vitamins intake, on vitamins deficiencies and on phytosterols biological activities. Finally, aim of this course is to provide knowledge to perform a correct bibliographical research during a lesson in the computer lab.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will be able to critically evaluate the antioxidant properties of a molecule. Students will be able to describe biological activities, bioavailability and plant/food sources of vitamins, phytosterols and natural antioxidants. Moreover, students will be able to perform a correct bibliographical research on subjects covered during the course.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2022/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation
Course syllabus
Oxidative stress: definition, main radical reactions that oxidate the biological macromolecules and human diseases related to high levels of oxidative stress. The antioxidant activities that the body hires to counteract oxidative stress. Definition of endogenous and exogenous anitioxidants.
Main methods to study the antioxidant capacity (ORAC, DPPH, FRAP, Peroxynitrite, TBARS).
Natural antioxidant: Classification of antioxidants with a particular focus on recent scientific studies on biological activity of bioactive compound, structure-activity relationships and antioxidant activity.
Examples of natural antioxidants of major interest in human nutrition and health:
Flavonoids, their functions in plants and biological activity in humans. Examples of plants containing different classes of flavonoids with antioxidant properties. Camellia sinensis Kuntze, catechins and condensed tannins content and their antioxidant property; phenols and polyphenols of olive oil, polyphenols of grape and red wine, anthocianins and proanthocyanidins. Procyanidins of Theobroma cacao. Soja isoflavones. Chamomilla and its antioxidant activity. Castanea sativa Mill: biological activity and antioxidant activity. Antioxidant activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum) and of wolfberry (Lycium barbarum).
Curcuma Longa and other spices abundant in molecules with antioxidant activity.
Vitamins: General characteristics. Liposoluble vitamins:A, D, E, K, Hydrosoluble vitamins: C, B. Recommended intake, food sources, bioavailability and vitamins deficiencies. Vitamins as antioxidants and their mechanism of action. Vitamins-drugs and vitamins- food interaction.
Phytosterols: definition, food sources, biological activities correlated to phytosterols intake, phytosterols content in food. Mechanism of action and side effects.
Bibliographical research: Use of specialised databases and specific softwares to collect information about nutritional components of food, antioxidants and phytosterols of interest. How to choice a specific database and research strategies to search bibliography of key topics.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge on pharmacognosy and pharmacology is required.
Teaching methods
The course includes 11 frontal lessons (2 hours each), during which the proposed subjects will be explained and examined in depth via recent scientific manuscripts. The last 2 hours will be carried out in a computer lab: during the first half a frontal lesson will be given on how to perform a correct bibliographical research, then the knowledge will be immediately applied performing guided bibliographical researches.
Teaching Resources
Teaching material is available on the web site Ariel

Suggested books to deepen basic knowledge required on pharmacognosy and pharmacology:
- FARMACOLOGIA. PRINCIPI DI BASE E APPLICAZIONI TERAPEUTICHE. Rossi, Cuomo, Riccardi. Edizioni Minerva Media, IV edizione 2019
Assessment methods and Criteria
One hour-long written exam. The exam will be composed by two open questions and 10 multiple choice questions. Questions will be based on the topics presented in the lectures and a positive evaluation will be based on the correctness of the answers, the revealed comprehension of the arguments and the quality of the responses. The score is expressed in thirtieths and it will be communicated through unimi official web site.
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 24 hours
Professor: Caffino Lucia
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Via Balzaretti 9, Milano