Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

University Department of Neurology

Neurochemical Laboratory


Prof. Dr. med. S. Vielhaber


Dr. rer. nat. Grazyna Debska-Vielhaber
PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Frank N. Gellerich
Dr. rer. nat. habil. Zemfira Gizatullina
Kerstin Kaiser (MTAL)
Jeannette Witzke (MTAL)



While neurons may be lost for a variety of reasons during the course of neurodegenerative diseases, the final pathway to neuronal death often entails a comparable set of processes. This final pathway has been termed "programed cell death" or "apoptosis." It is characterized by a well-defi ned cascade of biochemical reactions that in part involve the mitochondria, which are the `power plants´ of cells. In Magdeburg, there is a long history of expertise in mitochondrial research. In the Neurochemistry Lab of the Dept. of Neurology we are addressing three major questions:

Research Activities

Basic research by F. N. Gellerich has revealed a new calcium-dependent mechanism that activates mitochondrial metabolism. He has dubbed this mechanism the `mitochondrial gas pedal.´ This mechanism regulates how mitochondria are supplied with pyruvate, their primary substrate. It operates in all tissues, but is particularly important in neurons because in neurons mitochondria have no other substrate available (Fig. 1).

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Selected References

Mitochondrial dysfunction in primary human fibroblasts triggers an adaptive cell survival program that requires AMPK-α. Distelmaier. F, Valsecchi F, Liemburg-Apers DC, Lebiedzinska M, Rodenburg RJ, Heil S, Keijer J, Fransen J, Imamura H, Danhauser K, Seibt A, Viollet B, Gellerich FN, Smeitink JA, Wieckowski MR, Willems PH, Koopman WJ. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Mar;1852(3):529-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.12.012. Epub 2014 Dec 20. PMID: 25536029.

Knockout of cyclophilin D in Ppif-/- mice increases stability of brain mitochondria against Ca2+ stress. Gainutdinov T, Molkentin JD, Siemen D, Ziemer M, Debska-Vielhaber G, Vielhaber S, Gizatullina Z, Orynbayeva Z, Gellerich FN. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 May 29. pii: S0003-9861(15)00255-6. doi: 10.1016/

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Last Modification: 22.02.2017 - Contact Person: Ögelin Düzel