Assessing Zinc Nutriture

Carbonic anhydraseMatthew Zdilla

The Zdilla Lab is involved in research aiming to produce new clinical measurements and discover new links between human structure and function.


  • A novel method of assessing zinc nutriture: (Starkey, Saling, Basil)
    A new, noninvasive, method of assessing the adequacy/inadequacy of zinc nutrition based on the taste perception of zinc is being developed.  The implications of the new clinical measurement technique are wide-ranging from gaining insight into immune function and reproductive function to predicting predispositions to cavities, anorexia, and problems with brain function.
  • Correlating salivary carbonic anhydrase VI (gustin) with zinc taste perception and immunity: (Starkey)
    An enzyme in saliva known as “gustin” may have a great influence over how we taste metals, such as zinc.  It also plays a role in the pH balance of our oral cavity.  The enzyme may also be a window into our immune function.  We are measuring gustin concentrations in saliva and exploring its correlations with human health.
  • Circumvallate papillae characteristics and zinc taste perception: (Hunt, Gibson)
    Taste buds, the small structures that house our taste receptors are located, predominantly, in organs called papillae.  We are using endoscopy and intraoral photography to view circumvallate papillae located at the far back of the tongue in order to learn more about how their characteristics are related to our ability to taste zinc.
  • Fungiform papillae characteristics and zinc taste perception: (Quikel, Dennis)
    Fungiform papillae are organs located, chiefly, at the tip of the tongue.  These organs house taste buds.  We are analyzing the density and physical characteristics of these papillae to explore their relationship with the ability to taste zinc.

Student Researchers:

  • Leah Starkey – Senior, Majors: Biology and Chemistry, Pre-Med
  • Julia Saling – Senior, Majors: Biology and Chemistry, Pre-Med
  • Alicia Hunt – Senior, Major: Dental Hygiene
  • Laken Gibson – Senior, Majors: Biology and Exercise Physiology, Pre-Dental
  • Kurtis Dennis – Sophomore, Major: Biology, Pre-Dental
  • Lauren Quickel – Freshman, Major: Nursing

Matthew Zdilla’s Faculty Page