The WNT signalling pathway and diabetes mellitus

Diabetologia. 2008 Oct;51(10):1771-80. doi: 10.1007/s00125-008-1084-y. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


The WNT signalling pathway is involved in many physiological and pathophysiological activities. WNT ligands bind to Frizzled receptors and co-receptors (LDL receptor-related protein 5/6), triggering a cascade of signalling events. The major effector of the canonical WNT signalling pathway is the bipartite transcription factor beta-catenin/T cell transcription factor (beta-cat/TCF), formed by free beta-cat and one of the four TCFs. The WNT pathway is involved in lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis, and mutations in LRP5 may lead to the development of diabetes and obesity. beta-Cat/TCF is also involved in the production of the incretin hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 in the intestinal endocrine L cells. More recently, genome-wide association studies have identified TCF7L2 as a diabetes susceptibility gene, and individuals carrying certain TCF7L2 single nucleotide polymorphisms could be more susceptible to the development of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, beta-cat is able to interact with forkhead box transcription factor subgroup O (FOXO) proteins. Since FOXO and TCF proteins compete for a limited pool of beta-cat, enhanced FOXO activity during ageing and oxidative stress may attenuate WNT-mediated activities. These observations shed new light on the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes as an age-dependent disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1