Mary E.

Mary E. Blue, Ph.D.' s picture
Research Scientist, Neuroscience Laboratory
Phone: 443-923-2693
Kennedy Krieger Institute

707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States


Dr. Mary E. Blue is a research scientist in the neuroscience laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


Dr. Blue graduated cum laude with her bachelor's degree in biology and art from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa in 1977. She received her doctoral degree from the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas in Dallas, TX, in 1982. Dr. Blue continued her career as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, between 1982-1989 and has continued as research scientist at Kennedy krieger Institute from 1989 until the present. Dr. Blue acted as assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1992-1999. She continues as associate professor in the Department of Neurology since 2000 and serves as associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Neuroscience as well.


Neurotransmitter Mechanisms in Development and Activity-Dependent Plasticity

The research in Dr. Blue's lab examines the roles neurotransmitters play as trophic agents in cortical development and plasticity. This research has demonstrated that monoaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems are both altered by and influence injury in neonatal and adult hypoxia-ischemia animal models and in specific developmental disorders such as Down syndrome, autism and Rett syndrome (both in postmortem tissue and in animal models).

Activity-dependent plasticity plays an important role in the "sculpting" of synaptic connections in the postnatal human cerebral cortex and in the "reassignment" of cortex during recovery after early brain injuries. These plasticity studies focus on mechanisms by which cerebral cortex is influenced by peripheral stimuli and by which function is reassigned from one area of brain to another after neonatal injury. To study these mechanisms the rodent whisker-to-barrel system is used as a model of cortical plasticity. Rats and mice use their whiskers to navigate in their world and a precise "map" of the rodent face and whiskers is relayed through the brain to the cerebral cortex. Specialized anatomical configurations called "barrels" structurally and functionally linked to individual whiskers. Much like the reorganization of the human cortex after amputation, peripheral injury resulting from ablation of a single whisker follicle produces atrophy of the cortical barrel connected to it, and enhanced growth of surrounding barrels.

These results suggest that glutamate receptors appear to mediate activity-dependent enlargement of some barrels and retraction of others in response to whisker clipping. Other studies have shown that neurotransmitter-specific afferents to the cortex (including acetylcholine-containing axons from the nucleus basalis) influence the degree of cortical plasticity.

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Research Publications

Shapiro JR, Boskey AL, Doty SB, Lukashova L, Blue ME (2017). Zoledronic acid improves bone histomorphometry in a murine model of Rett syndrome. Bone. 99, 1-7.

Arnaoutakis GJ, George TJ, Wang KK, Wilson MA, Allen JG, Robinson CW, Haggerty KA, Weiss ES, Blue ME, Talbot CC Jr, Troncoso JC, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2011). Serum levels of neuron-specific ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal esterase-L1 predict brain injury in a canine model of hypothermic circulatory arrest. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 142(4), 902-910.e1.

Blue ME, Kaufmann WE, Bressler J, Eyring C, O'driscoll C, Naidu SJohnston MV (2011). Temporal and regional alterations in NMDA receptor expression in Mecp2-null mice. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 294(10), 1624-34.

Shapiro JRBibat G, Hiremath G, Blue ME, Hundalani S, Yablonski T, Kantipuly A, Rohde C, Johnston MNaidu S (2010). Bone mass in Rett syndrome: association with clinical parameters and MECP2 mutations. Pediatr Res. 68(5), 446-51.

Jain D, Singh K, Chirumamilla S, Bibat GMBlue MENaidu SR, Eberhart CG (2010). Ocular MECP2 protein expression in patients with and without Rett syndrome. Pediatr Neurol. 43(1), 35-40.

Allen JG, Weiss ES, Wilson MA, Arnaoutakis GJ, Blue ME, Talbot CC Jr, Jie C, Lange MS, Troncoso JC, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2010). Hawley H. Seiler Resident Award. Transcriptional profile of brain injury in hypothermic circulatory arrest and cardiopulmonary bypass. Ann Thorac Surg. 89(6), 1965-71.

Tseng EE, Brock MV, Lange MS, Troncoso JC, Blue ME, Lowenstein CJ, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2010). Glutamate excitotoxicity mediates neuronal apoptosis after hypothermic circulatory arrest. Ann Thorac Surg. 89(2), 440-5. 

Weiss ES, Wang KK, Allen JG, Blue ME, Nwakanma LU, Liu MC, Lange MS, Berrong J, Wilson MA, Gott VL, Troncoso JC, Hayes RL, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2009). Alpha II-spectrin breakdown products serve as novel markers of brain injury severity in a canine model of hypothermic circulatory arrest. Ann Thorac Surg. 88(2), 543-50.

Liu Y, Yoo MJ, Savonenko A, Stirling W, Price DL, Borchelt DR, Mamounas L, Lyons WE, Blue ME, Lee MK (2008). Amyloid pathology is associated with progressive monoaminergic neurodegeneration in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci. 28(51), 13805-14.

Boylan CB, Blue ME, Hohmann CF (2007). Modeling early cortical serotonergic deficits in autism. Behav Brain Res. 176(1), 94-108.

Williams JA, Barreiro CJ, Nwakanma LU, Lange MS, Kratz LEBlue ME, Berrong J, Patel ND, Gott VL, Troncoso JC, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2006). Valproic acid prevents brain injury in a canine model of hypothermic circulatory arrest: a promising new approach to neuroprotection during cardiac surgery. Ann Thorac Surg. 81(6), 2235-41; discussion 2241-2.

Barreiro CJ, Williams JA, Fitton TP, Lange MS, Blue MEKratz LBarker PB, Degaonkar M, Gott VL, Troncoso JC, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA (2006). Noninvasive assessment of brain injury in a canine model of hypothermic circulatory arrest using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Ann Thorac Surg. 81(5), 1593-8.

Kaufmann WE, Johnston MVBlue ME (2005). MeCP2 expression and function during brain development: implications for Rett syndrome's pathogenesis and clinical evolution.Brain Dev. 27 Suppl 1, S77-S87.

Johnston MVBlue MENaidu S (2005). Rett syndrome and neuronal development. J Child Neurol. 20(9), 759-63.

Patra RC, Blue MEJohnston MVBressler JWilson MA (2004). Activity-dependent expression of Egr1 mRNA in somatosensory cortex of developing rats. J Neurosci Res. 78(2), 235-44.