Gone with the Wnts: beta-catenin, T-cell factor, forkhead box O, and oxidative stress in age-dependent diseases of bone, lipid, and glucose metabolism

Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Nov;21(11):2605-14. doi: 10.1210/me.2007-0259. Epub 2007 Jul 10.


The Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway affects several biological processes ranging from embryonic development, patterning, and postembryonic stem cell fate, to bone formation and insulin secretion in adulthood. beta-Catenin mediates canonical Wnt signaling by binding to and activating members of the T-cell factor (TCF) transcription factor family. Similar to the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, oxidative stress influences fundamental cellular processes including stem cell fate and has been linked to aging and the development of age-related diseases. However, the molecular details of the pathogenetic effects of oxidative stress on the homeostasis of many different tissues remain unclear. beta-Catenin has been recently implicated as a pivotal molecule in defense against oxidative stress by serving as a cofactor of the forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factors. In addition, it has been shown that oxidative stress is a pivotal pathogenetic factor of age-related bone loss and strength in mice, leading to, among other changes, a decrease in osteoblast number and bone formation. These particular cellular changes evidently result from diversion of the limited pool of beta-catenin from TCF- to FOXO-mediated transcription in osteoblastic cells. Fascinatingly, attenuation of Wnt-mediated transcription, resulting from an autosomal-dominant missense mutation in LRP6, a coreceptor for the Wnt-signaling pathway, has been linked recently genetically not only to premature osteoporosis, but also to coronary artery disease as well as several features of the metabolic syndrome including hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes, but not obesity. In this minireview, we highlight evidence linking the age-associated oxidative stress with FOXOs, Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, osteoblastogenesis, adipogenesis, osteoporosis, and several features of the metabolic syndrome. We hypothesize that antagonism of Wnt signaling by oxidative stress with increasing age may be a common molecular mechanism contributing to the development not only of involutional osteoporosis, but several pathologies such as atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia, all of which become more prevalent with advancing age.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Bone Diseases / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • TCF Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Glucose