This exam is present in the following Optional Group


General expected learning outcomes
The aim of the Bioinorganic Chemistry course is to teach the role of inorganic elements in biological, environmental and pharmaceutical processes. This discipline employs tools and concepts borrowed from several areas, including chemical, physical, biological and medical relevance.

Specific expected learning outcomes
1. Knowledge and understanding
Specific objectives are the description of the criteria of choice, accumulation, transport and storage of inorganic elements, in particular of metal ions, in organisms as well as the molecular description of the reaction mechanisms in which they participate in physio-pathological processes. In particular, several concepts will be described and discussed relating to: principles of coordination chemistry; selection, uptake, and assembly of units containing metals in biology; beneficial and toxic effects of inorganic elements, including Mercury, Chromium, Arsenic, Lead; structure and function of the heme unit; Iron and Copper properties in molecular oxygen transport proteins; role of the Zinc in hydrolytic enzymes, lyase and alcohol dehydrogenase; atom and electron transfer reactions; inorganic elements in radiopharmaceuticals; anticancer drugs containing Platinum, Gold, Ruthenium; toxic and therapeutic potential of small molecules (NO; CO; H2S).

2. Applying knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the student will be aware of the main roles performed by inorganic elements and metals in biology and medicine, in particular with respect to their catalytic function in redox and hydrolytic enzymes; transport and exchange of small molecules by the main prosthetic groups; communication between cells and tissues; control of the conformation and stability of polymers such as proteins and DNA; detoxification reactions of xenobiotics; treatment and diagnosis of various diseases.

3. Making judgements
The lectures will be interactive with questions and ideas aimed at stimulating attention, making links and critical considerations based on already acquired concepts and tools, re-elaborating in a clear and synthetic way the concepts learned and the material obtained from bibliographic research on international journals and specialized texts.

4. Communication skills
To this end, each student will develop a monographic theme and orally present it to others colleagues and any interested persons.

5. Learning skills
The student can study the topics covered in class by using the material made available by the teacher on the e-learning platform (slide, scientific articles and reviews) and by examining the textbooks suggested by the teacher (some copies are available at the Department library).





Introduction to Bioinorganic Chemistry. Presence, availability and functions of inorganic elements in living organisms. Essential elements in man. Dose-response diagram.
Principles of coordination chemistry. Thermodynamic aspects. Theory of acids and hard and soft bases. Chelation effect. Irvin-Williams series. pKa of metal-coordinated binders. Field theory of binders.
Kinetic aspects. Speed ​​of exchange of binders. Electron transfer reactions.
Biological binders for metal ions. Coordination geometries and electronic structure of bio-inorganic complexes.
Entetic state in enzymatic catalysis. Tetrapyrrolic and macrocyclic binders.Ionophore.
Nucleobases, nucleotides, nucleic acids and proteins as binders.
Selection, absorption and organization of units containing metals in biology. (12 h)

Spontaneous association of metal clusters. Natural and synthetic siderophores.
Enrichment strategies. Control and use of metal ion concentrations in cells. Beneficial and toxic effects of metal ions. Regulation of a beneficial metal, iron. Transferrin.
Beneficial and toxic effects of metal ions. Regulation of a beneficial metal, iron. Transferrin.
An example of a toxic metal, mercury. Genotoxic action of the chromium ion. (6h)

Generation and use of gradients of concentrations of metal ions. Membrane potential. Pumps and ion channels.
Acetylcholine receptor. Sodium channel.
Functions of metal in metal-proteins.
Functions of metalenzymes. Activation of substrates through nonredox mechanisms.
Carbypepteptidase A and Thermolysin.
Mechanism of action of alkaline phosphatase.
Example of lyase: carbon dioxide.
Example of oxidoreductase: alcohol dehydrogenase.
Atom and group transfer chemistry. (10h)

Oxygen transport: hemoglobin and myoglobin. Emeritrina and hemocyanina. Model compounds.
Oxygen atom transfer reactions. Monooxygenase. Cytochrome P-450.
Tyrosine. Metanoosigenasi. Model systems.
Enzymes containing molybdenum.
Metal protective enzymes: Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase.
Catalase. Peroxidase. (14h)

Anti-fungal heme-drug interactions.
Iron storage mechanisms. Ferritin and hemosiderin.
Metabolic disorders of copper and zinc.
Electronic transfer proteins. Iron-sulfur proteins. (8h)

Advanced mass spectrometric techniques for the study of bioinorganic species (4h)

cis-Platinum; Platinum-Rhodium bimetallic complexes; Platinum complexes (IV)
Biological functions of non-metallic inorganic elements.
Metals in medicine.
Cobalamines: organometallic complexes that encapsulate the Cobalt. (8h)

Metal ions in radiopharmaceuticals: selection and production of radionuclides for applications in diagnostics and therapy.
Boron and Gadolinium in neutron capture therapy.
Therapeutic agents containing gold. (6h)

Adopted texts

S. J. Lippard, J. M. Berg, "Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry" University Science Books (available in some hardcopies at the department's library G. Giacomello)
W. Kaim, B. Schwederski,"Bioinorganic Chemistry: Inorganic Elements in the Chemistry of Life", John Wiley and Sons
E. Alessio, "Bioinorganic Medicinal Chemistry", Wiley-VCH
I. Bertini, H. B. Gray, E. I. Stiefel, J. S. Valentine, "Biological Inorganic Chemistry- Structure and Reactivity" University Science Books


In order to achieve a fruitful learning, it is important to master the following preliminary knowledge: fundamental concepts of general and inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry.

Study modes

The course is carried out through theoretical lectures in the classroom. The teacher stimulates the students to the discussion through questions and links between concepts acquired in previous courses and new topics and perspectives addressed in the teaching of Bioinorganic Chemistry. The student will find the slides and the teaching material (exam program, recommended texts) useful for the preparation of the exam on the e-learning platform. The student can ask the teacher additional explanation on appointment.

Exam modes

The evaluation method is by oral examination. At the request of the students, the teacher is available to grant a possible postponement after 15 days from the date already fixed on the Infostud site. The duration of the oral exam is about one hour per student. Each student will develop a monographic theme chosen together with the teacher,elaborate in a clear, concise and critical manner the material obtained from the course (slides, books, scientific articles and reviews downloadable from elearning) and from bibliographic research carried out through the library system of the Department and University. The oral presentation will take place in the presence of colleagues and any other interested persons. The main elements to be assessed are: 1) the mastery of the topics covered in class; 2) the acquisition of a technical language that makes use of new knowledge and that already acquired in previous years' teaching, given the remarkable interdisciplinary nature of the Bioinorganic Chemistry; 3) the ability to analyze updated bibliographic sources to be used for oral presentation; 4) the ability to synthesize the selected material. It is believed that a fundamental point of this method of examination is the acquisition of useful tools for a correct bibliographic analysis, useful for the subsequent experience of preparation of the degree thesis.
Sufficient preparation in the four points listed ensures the minimum score of 18/30 but normally students show an adequate / excellent preparation that can lead them to achieve the maximum mark of 30/30 with honors.

Exam reservation date start Exam reservation date end Exam date
10/01/2020 10/02/2020 11/02/2020
15/05/2020 15/06/2020 16/06/2020
18/06/2020 07/07/2020 08/07/2020
20/08/2020 14/09/2020 15/09/2020
02/01/2021 19/01/2021 20/01/2021
Course sheet
  • Academic year: 2019/2020
  • Curriculum: Curriculum unico
  • Year: Fourth year
  • Semester: Second semester
  • SSD: CHIM/03
  • CFU: 8
  • Attività formative affini ed integrative
  • Ambito disciplinare: Attività formative affini o integrative
  • Lecture (Hours): 64
  • CFU: 8
  • SSD: CHIM/03