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 Group on Inmunonutrition (INMUNONUTRICIÓN)

  • Dra. M. Ascensión Marcos Sánchez 
  • Dra. Esther Nova Rebato 

Research Group on Metabolism and bioactivity of phytochemicals (BIOCELL)

  • Dra. Laura Bravo Clemente 
  • Dr. Luis Goya Suarez
  • Dra. Raquel Mateos Briz 
  • Dra. Sonia Ramos Rivero 
  • Dra. María Ángeles Martín Arribas
  • Dra. Beatriz Sarriá Ruiz

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

  • Dra. M. Pilar Vaquero Rodrigo

Research Group on Polyphenols and health (POLYHEALTH)

  • Dra. Sonia de Pascual-Teresa Fernández 

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

  • Dra. Jara Pérez Jiménez 

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

  • Dra. M. Begoña Olmedilla Alonso
  • Ligia Esperanza Díaz Prieto
  • Sonia Gómez Martínez
  • Milagros Sánchez-Prieto Borja
  • Belén Zapatera García
  • Ignacio Jesús Escudero Abad
  • Francisca Holgado Arroyo
  • Marta Nogués Cañada
  • Fátima Isabel Ruiz García de Dionisio
  • Alexandra Lacorta de Ortega
  • Elena García Maldonado
  • Sergio Castillo González
  • Esther García Díez
  • Mónica Redondo Puente
  • Miguel Ángel Seguido Rodríguez
  • Susana González Rámila
  • Joaquín García Cordero

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