• cerebellar granule neurons;
  • formate;
  • GSH ;
  • lactate;
  • metabolism


Formaldehyde is endogenously produced in the human body and brain levels of this compound are elevated in neurodegenerative conditions. Although the toxic potential of an excess of formaldehyde has been studied, little is known on the molecular mechanisms underlying its neurotoxicity as well as on the ability of neurons to metabolize formaldehyde. To address these topics, we have used cerebellar granule neuron cultures as model system. These cultures express mRNAs of various enzymes that are involved in formaldehyde metabolism and were remarkably resistant toward acute formaldehyde toxicity. Cerebellar granule neurons metabolized formaldehyde with a rate of around 200 nmol/(h × mg) which was accompanied by significant increases in the cellular and extracellular concentrations of formate. In addition, formaldehyde application significantly increased glucose consumption, almost doubled the rate of lactate release from viable neurons and strongly accelerated the export of the antioxidant glutathione. The latter process was completely prevented by inhibition of the known glutathione exporter multidrug resistance protein 1. These data indicate that cerebellar granule neurons are capable of metabolizing formaldehyde and that the neuronal glycolysis and glutathione export are severely affected by the presence of formaldehyde.