PhD Student: Francesca Saitta
Tutor: Prof. Dimitrios Fessas – DeFENS
Dean: Prof. Ella Pagliarini
Research area: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Inter-disciplinary approaches for defining the relationships between food composition, structure and processing with metabolic function/dysfunction
The pathogenesis of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is a subject of continuous investigation and, besides many factors, a connection between the disease and obesity has been found. However, the reason and the manner in which obesity and nutrition factors are linked to T2DM are not fully understood yet. Studies at molecular level could actually help to understand this correlation. The amyloidogenic protein IAPP (Islet Amyloid Polypeptide) seems to be involved in disease onset through its interaction with cell membranes.
Since the “resistance” against a hypothetical protein interaction is correlated to the membrane thermodynamics, the aim of this research project is to prepare and characterize model membranes which simulate as possible the phospholipid bilayers of the Langerhans β-cells in order to understand how the lipid composition and the foodborne stress (high [Ca2+] and [FFA]) affect membrane stability. Specifically, this study will be focused on the influence of molecules that represent the most widely used fats in food technologies.
metabolism, membranes, thermodynamics, food
Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS)
Università degli Studi di Milano
Via Celoria, 2 – 20133 Milano, Italy
Phone number: +39 02 503 19220
Prof. Dimitrios Fessas, Dr. Marco Signorelli (Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry Laboratory, DeFENS, University of Milan, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy)
Prof. Carmelo La Rosa (Department of Chemical Science, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy)
Prof. Costas Demetzos (Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, University of Athens, School of Pharmacy, Panepistimioupolis, Zografou, 15771, Athens, Greece)
Fellowship sponsor: Università degli Studi di Milano
Papers with impact factor
Saitta, F.; Signorelli, M.; Fessas, D. (2019) Dissecting the eﬀects of free fatty acids on the thermodynamic stability of complex model membranes mimicking insulin secretory granules. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 176: 167-175. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfb.2018.12.066
Pelosi, C.*; Saitta, F.*; Wurm, F.R.; Fessas, D.; Tinè, M.R.; Duce, C. (2019) Thermodynamic stability of myoglobin-poly(ethylene glycol) bioconjugates: A calorimetric study. Thermochimica Acta, 671: 26-31. (* These authors contributed equally to the work) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tca.2018.11.001
Saitta, F.; Signorelli, M.; Fessas, D. (2018) Thermodynamic stability of complex model membranes: the role of composition, morphology and food fatty acids. XL National Conference on Calorimetry, Thermal Analysis and Chemical Thermodynamics – AICAT 2018, 17-19 December 2018, Pisa (Italy).
Pelosi, C.; Saitta, F.; Wurm, F.R.; Fessas, D.; Tinè, M.R.; Duce, C. (2018) Evaluation of thermal stability of model protein-polymer conjugates. XL National Conference on Calorimetry, Thermal Analysis and Chemical Thermodynamics – AICAT 2018, 17-19 December 2018, Pisa (Italy).
Saitta, F.; Signorelli, M.; Fessas, D. (2018) Proteins and Calorimetry: from diluted solutions to food systems. SIB (Gruppo Proteine) Advanced School: “Food Proteins”, 02-04 May 2018, Bergamo (Italy).
Saitta, F.; Signorelli, M.; Fessas, D. (2017) Metabolic risk of new food technologies: calorimetric study of model cell membranes for the determination of the influence of free fatty acids (FFA) in diabetes mellitus onset. IUMBM Advanced School on “A molecular view of the food-health relationship”, 15-19 May 2017, Spetses (Greece).
Saitta, F.; Liggri, P.G.V.; Tsitsanou, K.E.; Drakou, C.E.; latrou, K.; Zographos, S.E.; Fessas, D. (2018) Thermodynamic studies of AgamOBP4 and AgamOBP5 from Anopheles gambiae with different semiochemicals. XL National Conference on Calorimetry, Thermal Analysis and Chemical Thermodynamics – AICAT 2018, 17-19 December 2018, Pisa (Italy).
Liggri, P.G.V.; Tsitsanou, K.E.; Saitta, F.; Drakou, C.E.; latrou, K.; Fessas, D.; Zographos, S.E. (2018) X-ray crystal structure and binding studies of the Odorant Binding Protein 5 from the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. 9th International Conference of the Hellenic Crystallographic Association (HeCrA), 05-07 October 2018, Patras (Greece). (AWARDED)
Saitta, F. (2018) Thermodynamic assessment of the interaction of food fatty acids with pancreatic model membranes: links between obesity and T2DM. 23rd Workshop on the Developments in the Italian PhD Research on Food Science, Technology and Biotechnology, 19-21 September 2018, Oristano (Italy).
Naziris, N.; Saitta, F.; Pippa, N.; Stellas, D.; Chrysostomou, V.; Pispas, S.; Libera, M.; Trzebicka, B.; Signorelli, M.; Demetzos, C.; Fessas, D. (2017) Application of DSC and Imaging Techniques on the Development of Innovative Chimeric/Mixed Nanosystems. 13th Mediterranean Conference on Calorimetry and Thermal Analysis – Medicta 2017, 24-27 September 2017, Loano (Italy). (AWARDED)
Saitta, F. (2017) Calorimetric Study of New Model Cell Membranes to Assess the Influence of Food Fatty Acids and Ca2+ in the Frame of T2DM Onset and Progression. 22nd Workshop on the Developments in the Italian PhD Research on Food Science, Technology and Biotechnology, 20-22 September 2017, Bozen (Italy).
02.05.2017-04.05.2017: Participation at the SIB (Gruppo Proteine) Advanced School on “Food Proteins”. Bergamo (Italy).
15.05.2017-19.05.2017: Participation at the IUMBM Advanced School on “A molecular view of the food-health relationship”. Spetses (Greece).
29.11.2016-10.12.2016: Training period regarding liposomes-model membranes preparation and characterization for applications in food and biological fields. Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens (Greece).
Certificates and Awards
Poster Award, HeCrA 2018.
Poster Award in the Life Science section, Medicta 2017.
Member of SCI (Società Chimica Italiana)
Member of AICAT (Associazione Italiana di Calorimetria e Analisi Termica) and GICAT (Gruppo Interdivisionale di Calorimetria e Analisi Termica della Società Chimica Italiana)