Department of Biomedical Science Division of Physiology

Personal information
Name Surname: Melania Melis
Date and place of birth: December 21st, 1985, Cagliari
Citizenship: Italian
Affiliation: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy
Phone: 070-675-4142 or 4189
Fax: 070/675-4191

March 2014 PhD in Morphological and Functional Sciences, Cagliari University, Italy
July 2010 Master degree, Experimental and Applied Biology, Cagliari University, Italy
September 2008 Bachelor’s first degree, Experimental Biology, Cagliari University, Italy

Research Activities
30/12/2019 - 30/12/2028 National Scientific Qualification for Associate Professor of Physiology.
July 2019 – present Assistant Professor of Physiology, Cagliari University, Italy
April 2017- July 2019 Post-doc Researcher, Cagliari University, Italy
July 2016-March 2017 Research collaborator, Cagliari University, Italy
July 2014-July 2016 Post-doc Researcher, Cagliari University, Italy
November 2010-February 2011 Research collaborator, Cagliari University, Italy
January 2013-June 2013 Visiting PhD student, Laboratory of Sensory Evaluation/ Nutrition, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA, Supervisor Beverly J Tepper

September 2019 Award from “The Physiological Society of Italy” as brilliant researchers.

Present collaborations
• Beverly J Tepper, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA;
• Yanina Pepino, Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, USA;
• M. Hakan Ozdener, Monell Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA;
• Latish Love-Gregory, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA;
• Makedonka Mitreva, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA;
• Nada A. Abumrad, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA;
• Yvonne Koelliker, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA;
• Karen L Ahijevych, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, USA;
• Yousaf Neeta, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA;
• Mitchell Z Mattes, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA;
• Thomas Hummel, Smell and Taste Clinic, Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology, Technische Univ. Dresden, Germany;
• Naim Khan, Faculté des Sciences de la Vie, Université de Bourgogne, France.
• Massimo Castagnola, Institute of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Catholic University, Rome, Italy;
• Irene Messana, Dept. of Life and Environment Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Paolo Gasperini, Dept. of Reproductive and Developmental Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy;
• Vincenzo Di Marzo, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Pozzuoli, NA, Italy;
• Annalisa Bonfiglio, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Cagliari; Italy;
• Luigi Raffo, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Cagliari; Italy;
• Danilo Pani, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Cagliari; Italy;
• Piero Cosseddu, Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Cagliari; Italy;
• Iole Tomassini Barbarossa, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Roberto Crnjar, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Sebastiano Banni, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Massimiliano Arca, Dept. of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Valeria Sogos, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Carla Aragoni, Dept. of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Tiziana Cabras, Dept. of Life and Environment Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Carla Calò, Dept. of Life and Environment Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;
• Claudia Caltagirone, Dept. of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy;

Activity as Reviewer
2017 - present Reviewer for the following scientific Journal: The Journal of Nutrition, Archieves of Oral Biology, Biology Letters, Computers in Biology and Medicine (CBM), Oncotarget, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Biochimie, Physiology & Behavior

Teaching Activity
Tutor for student for the course of General Physiology, Degree in Biology and Biomedical Engineering (Academic years: 2018/2019 / 2017-2018 /2011-2013/ 2009-2010)

Scientific skills
Evaluation of taste sensitivity using a variety of techniques: LMS scale; determination of threshold taste
Determination of eating behavior using psychometric scales (e.g., restrained eating)
Determination of salivary proteome by HPLC-ESI-MS and LTQ ORBITRAP ELITE
DNA extraction by Salting Out and/or by KIT QIAGEN- QIAamp and DNA quantification
PCR (polymerase chain reaction), analysis of specific SNPs of genes of interest, conducted by enzymatic digestion or by TaqMan genotyping assay

International patent International Application Number: PCT/IB2017/053254; International Publication Number: WO 2017/212377; International pubblication date: 14.12.2017; title: “DEVICE, SYSTEM AND RELATING METHOD FOR THE QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT OF TASTE SENSITIVITY”, A1; Intentors: Tomassini Barbarossa I., Crnjar R.M., Sollai G., Melis M., Pani D., Cosseddu P., Bonfiglio A.

Other titles
2019 - present Member of “Società Italiana di Fisiologia” (SIF)
2013 - present Member of “Association for Chemoreception Sciences” (AChemS)
15-16, December 2016 Training course “First Italian Smell and Taste Course” in Varese, Italy
October 2016 Training course “Course on Smell & Taste” in Dresden, Germany, Professor Thomas Hummel

Research Interest
The main objective of the research is to study the physiology of taste and its role in food preferences, nutritional status and health. In particular, by integrating psychophysics, molecular biology, neurobiology, genetics, nutrition and electrophysiology methods, these studies have focused on the identification of the physiological basis of individual taste variability, the relationships between taste sensitivity, food behavior and nutritional status, and on modifications of taste perception. Recently she designed and patented a new technique based on electrophysiological recordings of the bioelectric potentials generated in the taste cells of the human tongue by taste stimulation, thus obtaining a direct, objective and quantitative measure of the peripheral taste function.

1. Oppo V, Melis M, Melis M, Tomassini Barbarossa I and Cossu G (2020) “Smelling and Tasting” Parkinson’s Disease: Using Senses to Improve the Knowledge of the Disease Front. Aging Neurosci. 12:43. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00043.

2. Melis M, Mastinu M, Sollai G, Paduano D, Chicco F, Magrì S, Usai P, Crnjar R, Tepper BJ and Tomassini Barbarossa I (2020) Taste Changes in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Associations with PROP Phenotypes and polymorphisms in the salivary protein, Gustin and CD36 Receptor Genes. Nutrients 2020, 12, 409; doi:10.3390/nu12020409.

3. Melis, M, Errigo, A. Crnjar, R., Pes, G.M. Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2019) TAS2R38 bitter taste receptor and attainment of exceptional longevity Scientific Report, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article number 18047. ISSN: 20452322. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-54604-1

4. Melis, M, Sollai, G., Masala, C. Pisanu, C., Cossu, G., Melis, M., Sarchioto, M., Oppo, V., Morelli, M., Crnjar, R., Hummel, T, Tomassini Barbarossa, I. (2019). Odor identification performance in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is associated with gender and the genetic variability of the olfactory binding protein. Chemical Senses, 44(5), 311-318. ISSN: 0379864X. DOI: 10.1093/chemse/bjz020

5. Sollai, G., Melis, M., Magri, S., Usai, P., Hummel, T., Tomassini Barbarossa, I., Crnjar, R. (2019) Association between the rs2590498 polymorphism of Odorant Binding Protein (OBPIIa) gene and olfactory performance in healthy subjects. Behavioural Brain Research. 372, 17 October, Article number 112030. ISSN: 01664328. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112030

6. Melis M, Grzeschuchna L, Sollai G, Hummel T, Tomassini Barbarossa I (2019) Taste disorders are partly genetically determined: Role of the TAS2R38 gene, a pilot study. THE LARYNGOSCOPE. Early view, ISSN:0023852X, DOI:10.1002/lary.27828;

7. Sollai G*, Melis M*, Mastinu M, Pani D, Cosseddu P, Bonfiglio A, Crnjar R, Tepper JB, Tomassini Barbarossa I (2019) Human Tongue Electrophysiological Response to Oleic Acid and Its Associations with PROP Taster Status and the CD36 Polymorphism (rs1761667). NUTRIENTS, vol. 11, p. 315; EISSN 2072-6643, DOI:10.3390/nu11020315. *Equal contribution.

8. Burgess B, Melis M, Scoular K, Driver M, Schaich KM, Keller KL, Tomassini Barbarossa I, Tepper BJ. (2018) Effects of CD36 Genotype on Oral Perception of Oleic Acid Supplemented Safflower Oil Emulsions in Two Ethnic Groups: A Preliminary Study. J Food Sci. 2018 May;83(5):1373-1380; ISSN: 0022-1147, DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.14115.

9. Cossu G*, Melis M*, Sarchioto M, Melis M, Melis M, Morelli M, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2018) 6-n-propylthiouracil taste disruption and TAS2R38 nontasting form in Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2018 Mar 24. ISSN: 0885-3185, DOI: 10.1002/mds.27391; I. F: 8.32. *Equal contribution.

10. Melis M, Mastinu M, Arca M, Crnjar R, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2018) Effect of chemical interaction between oleic acid and L-Arginine on oral perception, as a function of
polymorphisms of CD36 and OBPIIa and genetic ability to taste 6-n-propylthiouracil. PLoS One 13(3):e0194953; ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194953.

11. Melis M*, Carta G*, Pintus S, Pintus P, Piras CA, Murru E, Manca C, Di Marzo V, Banni S, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2017) Polymorphism rs1761667 in the CD36 Gene Is Associated to Changes in Fatty Acid Metabolism and Circulating Endocannabinoid Levels Distinctively in Normal Weight and Obese Subjects. Front Physiol Dec 6;8:1006. ISSN: 1664-042X, DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.01006. *Equal contribution.

12. Tepper BJ, Melis M, Koelliker Y, Gasparini P, Ahijevych KL, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2017) Factors Influencing the Phenotypic Characterization of the Oral Marker, PROP. Nutrients 23;9(12); ISSN: 2072-6643, DOI: 10.3390/nu9121275.

13. Pani D, Usai I, Cosseddu P, Melis M, Sollai G, Crnjar R, Tomassini Barbarossa I, Raffo L, Bonfiglio A. An automated system for the objective evaluation of human gustatory sensitivity using tongue biopotential recordings. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 2;12(8):e0177246; ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177246.

14. Melis M, Tomassini Barbarossa I. Taste Perception of Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, and Umami and Changes Due to L-Arginine Supplementation, as a Function of Genetic Ability to Taste 6-n-Propylthiouracil. Nutrients. 2017 May 25;9(6). ISSN: 2072-6643, DOI: 10.3390/nu9060541.

15. Tomassini Barbarossa I, Ozdener MH, Melis M, Love-Gregory L, Mitreva M, Abumrad NA, Pepino MY. Variant in a common odorant-binding protein gene is associated with bitter sensitivity in people. Behav Brain Res. 2017 Jun 30;329:200-204. ISSN: 0166-4328, DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.05.015.

16. Carta G*, Melis M,* Pintus S, Pintus P, Piras CA, Muredda L, Demurtas D, Di Marzo V, Banni S, Barbarossa IT. Participants with Normal Weight or with Obesity Show Different Relationships of 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) Taster Status with BMI and Plasma Endocannabinoids. Scientific Reports 2017 May 2;7(1):1361. ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01562-1. *Equal contribution.

17. Melis M., Yousaf N. Y , Mattes M. Z., Cabras T., Messana I., Crnjar R, Tomassini Barbarossa I. and Tepper B. J. Sensory Perception and Salivary Protein Response to Astringency as a Function of the 6-n-Propylthioural (PROP) Bitter-taste Phenotype. Physiol Behav. 2017 Jan 24; 173:163-173. ISSN: 0031-9384, DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.01.031.

18. Sollai, G*; Melis, M*.; Pani, D.; Cosseddu, P.; Usai, I.; Crnjar, R.; Bonfiglio, A.; Tomassini Barbarossa, I. First objective evaluation of taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP), a paradigm gustatory stimulus in humans. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 40353; ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/srep40353. *Equal contribution.

19. Melis M, Sollai G, Muroni P, Crnjar R, Barbarossa IT (2015) Associations between orosensory perception of oleic acid, the common single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs1761667 and rs1527483) in the CD36 gene, and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) tasting. Nutrients 7: 2068-2084; ISSN: 2072-6643, DOI: 10.3390/nu7032068.

20. Melis M, Arca M, Aragoni MC, Cabras T, Caltagirone C, et al. (2015) Dose-Dependent Effects of L-Arginine on PROP Bitterness Intensity and Latency and Characteristics of the Chemical Interaction between PROP and L-Arginine. PLoS One 10: e0131104; ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131104.

21. Solari P, Melis M, Sollai G, Masala C, Palmas F, et al. (2015) Sensing with the legs: contribution of pereiopods in the detection of food-related compounds in the red swamp crayfish. Journal of Crustacean Biology 35: 81-87; DOI: doi:10.1163/1937240X-00002291.

22. Tomassini Barbarossa I, Melis M, Mattes MZ, Calò C, Muroni P, Crnjar R, Tepper BJ.(2015) The gustin (CA6) gene polymorphism, rs2274333 (A/G), is associated with fungiform papilla density, whereas PROP bitterness is mostly due to TAS2R38 in an ethnically-mixed population. Physiol Behav 138C:6-12; ISSN: 0031-9384, DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.09.011.

23. Tepper BJ, Banni S, Melis M, Crnjar R, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2014) Genetic Sensitivity to the Bitter Taste of 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) and Its Association with Physiological Mechanisms Controlling Body Mass Index (BMI). Nutrients 6(9): 3363–3381; , ISSN: 2072-6643, DOI: 10.3390/nu6093363.

24. Melis M, Aragoni MC, Arca M, Cabras T, Caltagirone C, Castagnola M, Crnjar R, Messana I, Tepper BJ, Barbarossa IT. (2013) Marked increase in PROP taste responsiveness following oral supplementation with selected salivary proteins or their related free amino acids. PLoS One 8(3):e59810; ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059810.

25. Melis M, Atzori E, Cabras S, Zonza A, Calò C, Muroni P, Nieddu M, Padiglia A, Sogos V, Tepper BJ, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2013) The gustin (CA6) gene polymorphism, rs2274333 (A/G), as a mechanistic link between PROP tasting and fungiform taste papilla density and maintenance. PLoS One 8(9):e74151; eISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074151.

26. Tomassini Barbarossa I, Carta G, Murru E, Melis M, Zonza A, Vacca C, Muroni P, Di Marzo V, Banni S. (2013) Taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil is associated with endocannabinoid plasma levels in normal-weight individuals. Nutrition 29(3):531-536; ISSN: 0899-9007, DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.09.018.

27. Cabras T, Melis M, Castagnola M, Padiglia A, Tepper BJ, Messana I, Tomassini Barbarossa I. (2012) Responsiveness to 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) is associated with salivary levels of two specific basic Proline-rich proteins in Humans. PLOS One 7(2): e30962; eISSN: 1932-6203, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0030962.

Questionnaire and social

Share on: