6 credits during the 2nd year of 8746 School of Dental Medicine (LM-46) GENOVA
GENOVA (School of Dental Medicine)
1° Semester
This unit is a module of:
Teaching materials



The course aims to address the study of the molecules and transformations responsible for the functioning of the human organism at various levels.
At the end of the course the student will have acquired knowledge about the metabolic pathways used in the human body to meet the structural, energy and tissue-specific needs of the cells, with reference to the oral environment. In particular, the student will have understood the strategies and the biological purposes that make the various stages of metabolism interdependent; he will know the processes of production and use of energy in the cell and the role played by the mitochondria as well as the mechanisms of regulation of the main enzymatic reactions in relation to the cellular metabolism. Using this knowledge the student will be able to identify and understand some important metabolic processes that regulate the physiology and pathophysiology of tissues and organs that will be described in the next teachings.

Teaching methods

Teaching is performed by classroom-taught lessons with the aid of slides that are available to the students on  the  Aulaweb.


Protein - Structure and functions of proteins: myoglobin, hemoglobin, muscle contraction, antibodies.
Enzymology - General structure and classification of enzymes. Coenzymes. Enzyme-substrate interactions. Enzymatic kinetics. Activation energy, transition state. Michaelis-Menten's equation. Meaning of Km, Vmax and kcat. Linear graphs of enzymatic kinetics. Mechanisms of enzymatic regulation. Allosteric enzymes and their kinetics. Cooperative effect. Reversible and irreversible enzymatic inhibition.
Introduction to metabolism - Anabolism and catabolism. Coupling between exo-endoergonic reactions. Hydrolysis of ATP and phosphate transfer potential.
Glucose Metabolism - Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Metabolic fate of glucose, fructose and galactose. Aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis. Enzymes for glycolytic flow regulation. Phosphofaktokinases 1 and 2. Energy yield of glycolysis. The pathway of pentose phosphates: production of NADPH and ribose-5-phosphate. Glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase. Gluconeogenesis: glucose synthesis sites, main precursors and enzymatic reactions. Cori cycle. Glycogen syntesis and glycogenolysis. Hormonal regulation of glucose metabolism.
Lipid metabolism - Digestion and absorption of lipids. Plasma lipoproteins. Lipolysis and its hormonal regulation. Beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Role of carnitine. Ketogenesis. Biosynthesis of fatty acids, triglycerides, cholesterol. HMG-CoA reductase regulation.
Amino acid and protein metabolism - Digestion and protein absorption. Intracellular protein degradation. Proteasome. Transamination and deamination. Transport of ammonia to the liver. Alanine cycle. Urea cycle. Glucogenic and ketogenic amino acids.
Nucleotide metabolism - Digestion of nucleic acids. Degradation of purines and pyrimidines. Salvage pathway to the synthesis of nucleotides.

Mitochondrial metabolism - Pyruvate dehydrogenase. Citric acid cycle and its metabolic interrelations. Complexes of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Mitchell's chemo-osmotic theory. Coenzyme Q cycle. Electrochemistry of the respiratory chain. Transport of reducing equivalents in the mitochondria. Respiratory control. Reactive species of cellular oxygen and nitrogen.
Hormones - General characteristics of hormones of amino acid, peptide and steroid nature. General mechanism of cellular action of hormones based on their structure.
Vitamins - Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins: structure, functions and action mechanism.
Hemostasis biochemistry - Molecular mechanisms of platelet aggregation and blood coagulation.
Bone biochemistry - Metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Structure of biological apatites.Calcification and reabsorption mechanism. Role of collagen.
Dental biochemistry - Molecular mechanisms of tooth enamel formation. Amelogenins. Saliva and its functions. Biochemical basis of caries.


Voet D., Voet JG., Pratt C.W.-Fundamentals of Biochemistry-ed. Zanichelli

Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.-Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry-ed. Zanichelli


Ricevimento:  Students can meet the teachers by booking individual appointments. The teachers  can be contacted  either by e-mail or telephone. e mail:  phone: 010 3538423 

Exam Board

ELENA ZOCCHI (President)

MONICA AVERNA (President and Coordinator of Integrated Course)


Teaching methods

Teaching is performed by classroom-taught lessons with the aid of slides that are available to the students on  the  Aulaweb.


Exam description

Oral examination

Assessment methods

Oral examination with assessment of knowledge and ability to link between the various topics in the program. To establish the degree of competence acquired by the students, with respect to the program of this teaching, the commission will positively evaluate the ability to analyze and integrate different aspects of the proposed question and the use of an appropriate vocabulary.