Marcia G. Honig, Ph.D.

Marcia G. Honig, Ph.D.

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
855 Monroe Avenue, Suite 515
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-5998
Fax: (901) 448-7193
Lab: 534 Johnson Building
Email: Marcia G. Honig



  • Ph.D. Institution: Yale University, Department of Biology
  • Postdoctoral: State University of New York at Stony Brook, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior; University of Michigan, Department of Biology

Research Interests

The research in my laboratory is focused on traumatic nervous system injury.  We use a blast cannon system to create either traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI) by directing a high-pressure air blast to the left side of the head or to the midline of the back, respectively, of an anesthetized mouse.  The animal is stabilized to restrict its movement and all but the targeted area is shielded from the blast.  This approach produces a mild injury, similar to that sustained by humans during traumatic incidents such as sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and falls, where there is no skull or vertebral column breakage.  The pressure wave is transmitted through the overlying skin, muscle, and bone to the underlying tissue and then conducted through the neural parenchyma, alternately compressing and stretching the tissue.  This damages axons located in major fiber tracts and activates microglia along those tracts, without causing any hemorrhaging or contusive injury.  Behavioral assays indicate that mice subjected to TBI exhibit mild motor deficits, significant visual deficits, depression, anxiety and fear, when tested 2 weeks – 2 months after the TBI event.  Mice subjected to SCI show mild motor deficits, some of which are transient, lasting only a few days, whereas other motor deficits gradually worsen over the course of several weeks.  Our SCI model is especially well-suited for studying the progression of axonal injury and for testing treatments to prevent progression to overt degeneration and/or to enhance repair.

We are currently directing most of our attention to the long-term consequences of TBI and extending our approach to model multiple concussive events. In collaborative work with Anton Reiner, we have found that repetitive mild TBI results in neuronal loss in several areas of the brain and in the spinal cord. The mice exhibit psychological, cognitive, and motor impairments, with some of these deficits increasing in severity over time. We are particularly interested in determining how neuroinflammatory responses and auto-antibody production contribute to pathogenesis following repetitive TBI and in understanding how a history of concussion leads to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and an increased risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent Publications

  • Bu W, Ren H, Deng Y, Del Mar N, Guley NM, Moore BM, Honig MG, Reiner A. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Produces Neuron Loss That Can Be Rescued by Modulating Microglial Activation Using a CB2 Receptor Inverse Agonist. Front Neurosci. 2016 Oct 6;10:449. PubMed PMID: 27766068; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5052277.
  • Guley NH, Rogers JT, Del Mar NA, Deng Y, Islam RM, D'Surney L, Ferrell J, Deng B, Hines-Beard J, Bu W, Ren H, Elberger AJ, Marchetta JG, Rex TS, Honig MG, Reiner A. A Novel Closed-Head Model of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Using Focal Primary Overpressure Blast to the Cranium in Mice. J Neurotrauma. 2016 Feb 15;33(4):403-22. doi: 10.1089/neu.2015.3886. PubMed PMID: 26414413; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4761824.
  • del Mar N, von Buttlar X, Yu AS, Guley NH, Reiner A, Honig MG. A novel closed-body model of spinal cord injury caused by high-pressure air blasts produces extensive axonal injury and motor impairments. Exp Neurol. 2015 Sep;271:53-71. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.04.023. PubMed PMID: 25957630; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4586366.
  • Reiner A, Heldt SA, Presley CS, Guley NH, Elberger AJ, Deng Y, D'Surney L, Rogers JT, Ferrell J, Bu W, Del Mar N, Honig MG, Gurley SN, Moore BM 2nd. Motor, visual and emotional deficits in mice after closed-head mild traumatic brain injury are alleviated by the novel CB2 inverse agonist SMM-189. Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Dec 31;16(1):758-87. doi: 10.3390/ijms16010758. PubMed PMID: 25561230; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4307274.
  • Heldt SA, Elberger AJ, Deng Y, Guley NH, Del Mar N, Rogers J, Choi GW, Ferrell J, Rex TS, Honig MG, Reiner A. A novel closed-head model of mild traumatic brain injury caused by primary overpressure blast to the cranium produces sustained emotional deficits in mice. Front Neurol. 2014 Jan 22;5:2. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00002. PubMed PMID: 24478749; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3898331.
  • Cagle MC, Honig MG. Parcellation of cerebellins 1, 2, and 4 among different subpopulations of dorsal horn neurons in mouse spinal cord. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 1;522(2):479-97. doi: 10.1002/cne.23422. PubMed PMID: 23853053; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3855892.

View more references (pubmed link)