WNT/beta-catenin signaling in liver health and disease

Hepatology. 2007 May;45(5):1298-305. doi: 10.1002/hep.21651.


Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is emerging as a forerunner for its critical roles in many facets of human biology. Its roles in embryogenesis, organogenesis, and maintaining tissue and organ homeostasis demonstrate its munificent character. Its roles in pathological conditions such as cancer and other human disorders such as inflammatory disorders and fibrosis reveal its villainous disposition. In liver, it also maintains its dual personality and is clearly of essence in several physiological events such as development, regeneration, and growth. Its aberrant activation is also evident in many different tumors of the liver, and recent studies are beginning to identify its role in additional hepatic pathological conditions. It is contributing to liver physiology and pathology by regulating various basic cellular events, including differentiation, proliferation, survival, oxidative stress, morphogenesis, and others. This review discusses the contribution of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway in these events and simultaneously provides an essential overview of the major developments in the field of Wnt/beta-catenin and liver pathobiology. In addition, areas that are currently deficient or understudied are identified and discussed along with the avenues of translational and clinical relevance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / physiology*


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin