Antioxidants, Phytoprotectants and Disease
This module will provide an understanding of the role of free-radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in health and disease and to discuss the biochemical and cellular mechanisms, including cell signalling, by which they exert their effects.
On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
- Define the concept of free radicals and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species
- Describe the mechanisms by which free radicals may cause disease
- Review the metabolism of antioxidants and phytoprotectants
- Debate the clinical trial and epidemiological evidence for the importance of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in modifying disease risk
- Evaluate dietary sources and the dietary recommendations for antioxidant and phytoprotectant intakes
- Assess the role of diet in carcinogenesis, coronary heart disease and other conditions in which free radicals/reactive oxygen and nitrogen species play a part
- Use research literature and full range of library and online resources for research and module assessment exercises
- Critically evaluate current research in antioxidants and phytoprotectants
- Integrate evidence base for antioxidants/phytoprotectants to written essays for module assessment exercises.
Indicative content includes, some or all of the following topics:
Free radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; endogenous and exogenous sources; iron and transition metal catalysis, the Fenton reaction; oxidative damage -lipid peroxidation, protein and DNA damage; determination of free-radical activities in tissues.
Enzymes e.g. catalase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, xanthine oxidase; role of transferrin and ceruloplasmin; antioxidant vitamins -ascorbic acid, tocopherols, carotenoids; low-molecular-weight antioxidants e.g. glutathione, uric acid; assessment of antioxidant activity; pro- and antioxidant effects.
E.g. vitamin C and vitamin E; polyphenols, flavonols (fruit and vegetables), flavanols (tea), anthocyanins (berries and red wine); isoflavones (soy), including the gut flora metabolite, equol; sulphur containing compounds, the isothiocyanates; lignans and their gut flora metabolites, enterodiol and enterolactone; resveratrol, sulphur and selenium compounds; lycopene.
Bioavailability and general metabolism of the antioxidants and phytoprotectants; Safety concerns of antioxidants; unknown interactions.
Cellular biology of antioxidants and phytoprotectants; cell signalling, gene expression, effects on nuclear receptors, effects on platelet aggregation and blood clotting, more than antioxidant function.
Epidemiology of CHD; the "Response to injury hypothesis"; mechanisms of atherogenesis; LDL oxidation; endothelial damage; experimental and epidemiological evidence; intervention trials; limitations of antioxidant hypothesis.
Observational and intervention studies; epidemiology, controlled trials, limitations of studies; what doses are required for effects.
- Natural history and pathology of cancer
- Free-radical-mediated and other initiating reactions
- Dietary promotion of carcinogenesis
- Epidemiology of cancers - evidence for a dietary aetiology
- Anticarcinogens e.g. complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables
- Role in health and disease
- Hormone dependent cancers
- Mechanism of anticarcinogen action
- Results of nutritional intervention studies.
The role of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in these disease processes.
Learning and teaching methods
The learning and teaching methods include:
- Journal club
- Class discussions.
Assessment for the module is optional for those taking it as a short course. Assessment is compulsory if it is being taken as part of an award programme. Please contact the Programme Director, Barbara Fielding, or the Programme Administrator, Jenny Moberly, for further details.
The summative assessment for this module consists of:
- Coursework: a range of subject areas will be assessed, demonstrating learning outcomes across the range for the module.
- You will be required to submit the coursework electronically on a set deadline two months following the module.
In order to complete the assessments you will, as a starting point, be required to demonstrate knowledge obtained from the course material and reading. The essays will also require you to discuss and reflect on the material. Coursework essays are expected to be well researched and referenced.
You will receive feedback electronically and module organisers will be available for further discussion if necessary.
You will be required to do some reading prior to the module starting, take a look at the reading list.
A minimum of a 2:1 UK honours degree in either a medical degree (MBBS, MBChB), Biology, Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nutrition, Nutritional Science, Human Nutrition, Dietetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Medical Microbiology, Chemistry, Biomedical Science, Natural Sciences, Pharmacology, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Sport and Exercise Science, Psychology, or a recognised equivalent international qualification.
Applications that do not meet these criteria will also be considered based on relevant experience.
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
Fees and funding
How to apply
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