Department of Nutrition and Metabolism (DMN)


DMN research is focused on the study of the metabolism and biological activity of foods and their components, nutrients and non-nutrients, as well as on the study of nutritional aspects under given physiological and pathological conditions, by means of cellular models and animal and human studies. The work in the DMN is outlined within research lines 2 – Quality, safety and valorization of foods and traditional and functional ingredients- and 3 – Nutrition in the prevention and treatment of diseases – of the Strategic Plan of the ICTAN, more specifically on:

  • Development of functional ingredients: antioxidants, dietary fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, edible seaweeds, bioactive components from agro-food by-products.
  • Dietary fiber and antioxidant fiber: systemic and Gastrointestinal effects.
  • Phytochemicals: bioavailability, metabolism, molecular mechanisms, tissue distribution, antioxidant capacity and health effects.
  • Flavonoids: interactions with vitamins and biological activity.
  • Polyphenols: a) interactions with vitamins and minerals, effects of heat and enzymatic treatments on their bioavailability and antioxidant capacity, b) modulation of the microbiota and gut morphology.
  • Carotenoids and vitamins: analyses, biomarkers and intervention studies.
  • Animal nutrition: a) polyphenols, bioavailability, sparing effect of vitamin E, antimicrobial capacity, antioxidant effect and carcass quality.
  • Minerals: a) bioavailability; b) effects of gene-nutrient-disease interactions on mineral metabolism; c) lipid and bone metabolism.
  • Immunomodulatory activity of nutrients, bioactive compounds and foods.
  • Neuroendocrine-immunological biomarkers.
  • Assessment of nutritional status in groups at risk of malnutrition.


Research Group on Functional food of vegetable origin and health (ALIVEFSA)

  • Dra. Pilar Rupérez Antón (Research Scientist)

Research Group on Inmunonutrition (INMUNONUTRICIÓN)

  • Dra. M. Ascensión Marcos Sánchez (Research Professor)
  • Dra. Esther Nova Rebato (Tenured Scientist)

Research Group on Metabolism and bioactivity of phytochemicals (BIOCELL)

  • Dra. Laura Bravo Clemente (Research Professor)
  • Dr. Luis Goya Suarez (Research Scientist)
  • Dra. Raquel Mateos Briz (Tenured Scientist)
  • Dra. Sonia Ramos Rivero (Tenured Scientist)
  • Dra. Pilar Fernández de Palencia Delgado (Tenured Scientist)
  • Dra. María Ángeles Martín Arribas (Tenured Scientist)

Research Group on Minerals in human metabolism and nutrition (MINERALES)

  • Dra. M. Pilar Vaquero Rodrigo (Research Scientist)
  • Dra. Laura Toxqui Abascal (Associate Scientist)

Research Group on Polyphenols in animal nutrition (POLIAN)

  • Dr. Agustín Brenes Payá (Research Scientist)

Research Group on Polyphenols and health (POLYHEALTH)

  • Dra. Sonia de Pascual-Teresa Fernández (Tenured Scientist)

Research Group on Non extractable polyphenols, antioxidants and dietary fiber in health (POLIFIBAN)

  • Dr. Fulgencio Saura Calixto (Research Professor)
  • Dra. Jara Pérez Jiménez (Associate Scientist)

Research Group on Vitamins and Carotenoids: nutrition and biological activity (VITA-CAROT)

  • Dra. M. Begoña Olmedilla Alonso (Research Scientist)


  • Ligia Esperanza Díaz Prieto (Senior Technician)
  • Isabel Fernández Conde  (Technician)
  • Sonia Gómez Martínez (Senior Technician)
  • Mª Ángeles Martín Arribas (Senior Technician)
  • Milagros Sánchez-Prieto Borja (Técnico Superior Especializado / Senior Technician)
  • Beatriz Sarriá Ruiz (Senior Technician)
  • Ana Mª Veses Alcobendas – ( Senior Technician)
  • Belén Zapatera García (Technician)


  • Rocío Estévez Santiago (Predoctoral fellow)
  • Elena Pérez López – (Predoctoral fellow)
  • Andreu Prados Bo (Predoctoral fellow)
  • Shenli Wang (Predoctoral fellow)
  • Noemí Redondo Useros (Predoctoral fellow)


Analytical techniques

To be applied in the analysis of cell cultures, tissues, biological fluids and foods.

  • Analysis of DNA, RNA and protein by Southern, Northern and Western blots.
  • Antioxidant capacity (ORAC, ABTS, FRAP, DPPH, TBARS).
  • Flow cytometry: immunocompetent cells, immunological, hormone and neuronal molecules.
  • Dietary fiber and related compounds.
  • Biochemical techniques (ELISA, RIA) and multiplex assays (Milliplex).
  • Chromatographic techniques (HPLC-DAD, LC-MS and LC-MS/MS) for carotenoids, polyphenols and vitamins. Identification of metabolites.

Experimental models

  • In vitro, primary cultures, cell lines and in vivo.
  • Cellular, inflammation, endothelial function, absorption.

Human and animal studies

  • Bioavailability: study design and development.
  • Biomarkers of exposure, function and effect.
  • Efficacy of functional foods.
  • In vivo digestibility (animals).
  • Histomorphology and gut microbiology (animals).

Scientific and technical assessment

  • Optimization of methods and techniques for the development and evaluation of food ingredients and dietary recommendations.
  • Functional foods: design and assessment of effects in humans and animals.
  • Nutritional components and constituents with other biological activities.

The scientific and technological skills in the DMN enable the department to raise funds by submitting proposals in response to national and international competitive calls and through contracts with companies. The competence of the DMN in technology and knowledge transfer should be highlighted, as well as the numerous patents it has been granted and the capacity to train predoctoral research and technical personnel through doctoral theses, enrollment of students in practical courses, etc., within the framework of programs and agreements with Spanish and foreign universities.


Head of Department

Dra. Pilar Rupérez Antón