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Metabolic Challenges in Health and Disease


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Richard Rayne
  • TutorsDr Richard Rayne and others from the school
  • Assessment: computer-based (MCQ) tests and online short-answer tests (100%)

Module description

In this module we build on knowledge and understanding of human metabolism established in earlier modules, extending to examinations of compensations necessary to cope with selected physiological extremes (e.g. exercise) and derangements arising in selected pathological states (e.g. starvation, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, etc.).

Indicative syllabus

  • Metabolic integration: specialised metabolic functions and roles of selected tissues and organs
  • Mobilisation of stored fuels: energy metabolism through the day; adaptive responses to starvation; fuel utilisation during exercise
  • Hormonal signals and the brain circuitry controlling feeding and energy balance
  • Macronutrient metabolism in pathophysiological states: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • for selected tissue and organs, summarise the specialised metabolic needs and metabolic functions of each, and discuss their respective roles in contributing to metabolic homeostasis
  • review the hormonal signalling events and biochemical processes responsible for storage vs. mobilisation of macronutrient fuels and explain how patterns of storage vs. mobilisation change in respect of circumstances such as after an overnight fast, post-meal, at the onset of exercise, etc.
  • review the metabolic adaptations directed toward sparing of muscle protein in starvation
  • analyse the metabolic pattern typical of uncontrolled diabetes and explain why some would argue that diabetes is as much a disorder of fat metabolism as of carbohydrate metabolism
  • review the physiological derangements indicative of the metabolic syndrome, identify biochemical phenotypes that may be causative, and explain the basis of selected pharmacological therapies
  • outline the pathways for lipid transport in the body and discuss selected disorders of lipid metabolism (dyslipidaemias) and/or lipid transport that predispose affected people to atherosclerosis.