Professor Giovanni Scapagnini MD PhD
Assistant Professor, Institute of Neurological
Sciences, Italian National Research Council, Catania, Italy
Assistant Professor, Blanchette Rockefeller
Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia University, Rockville (MD),
Visiting Professor, Institute of Human
Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore (MD), USA
Professor Scapagnini attended the University of Catania School
of Medicine and Surgery in Catania, Italy and graduated in 1992 with
a medical degree. He continued his education by obtaining a Ph.D. in
Neurobiology also from the University of Catania in 2000. Since completing
his education, Dr. Scapagnini has conducted research with the Institute
of Pharmacology School of Medicine associated with the University of
Catania and has worked as a Visiting Scientist with Department of Surgical
Research, Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, Harrow, UK
in 1999, and with Laboratory of Adaptive Systems, National Institute
of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Health
in Bethesda, MD, USA in 2000. Dr. Scapagnini currently holds two academic
positions as Assistant Professor with the Institute of Neurological
Sciences, Italian National Research Council and with Blanchette Rockefeller
Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia University. He has recently
obtained a visiting professorship with the Institute of Human Virology,
University of Maryland, where he is in charge of a research project
on HIV dementia. He is also the scientific director of the “Research & Progress” foundation,
founded by Dr Robert C. Gallo. He is author of 35 indexed scientific
papers and several book chapters. His fields of research regard gene
expression profiles of cellular stress response and biology and molecular
mechanisms of brain aging and nerurodegenerative disorders. In particular
he has studied the anti-aging activities of several nutraceuticals
present in the Mediterranean diet.
Pre-conference Seminar - Digestion & Absorption - Beyond Nutrition: A journey into the gut microcosm
In recent years there has been a growing interest, supported by a large number of experimental and epidemiological studies outlining the beneficial effects of some commonly used food derived products capable of preventing various age-related pathologic conditions, which range from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases.
Besides the importance of nutrients and active compounds contained in food, the workshop/seminar will focus on the relevance of the organs where digestion and absorption of nutrients occur. Because the food we consume creates the intestinal micro-environment this in turn has a fundamental influence on the pathophysiology of many diseases.
The contents of the gut are an ‘inner’ world that is ‘outside’ the cellular body. Its surface is a frontier with an area 100 meters square and a thickness of one cell .Gut flora is an organ which contains more microbial cells than the cellular body has mammalian cells (100 trillion).In this context eukaryotes and prokaryotes have developed mutually beneficial relationships over a millennia of evolutionary adaptation. Similarly bacteria in our gut relies on our diet and the protected environment of our bodies just as our health depends on by- products of microbial metabolism. The normal intestinal microflora constitutes a huge chemical factory that alters our food and our gastrointestinal secretions. The benefit from their activity is multiplex and translates into
- increased energy for the gut epithelial cells
- a balanced absorption of salt and water
- nitrogen recycling
- the breakdown of complex lipids and cholesterol
- detoxification of waste compounds
The gut is a sensory organ. The mechanism by which the gut senses and responds to nutrients involves the ‘interplay’ of multiple complex pathways.
The gut is a neuro -endocrine organ. Every neurotransmitter found in the brain is also found here. The gut has a brain of its own, an intact and independent nervous system.
The gut is the largest organ of immune function in the body; 70% of our lymphocytes live here. In addition to regulating digestion and absorption the pathways stimulated by molecules in the gut lumen mediate gastric motility, food intake and satiety.
Finally we will explore how foods can be designed to modulate digestion and to promote health by changing the physical properties of digesta.