The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway in liver biology and disease

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Dec;4(6):745-56. doi: 10.1586/egh.10.74.


The Wnt signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved, highly complex signaling pathway that is critical for development, differentiation and cellular homeostasis. The protein β-catenin is the central player in one major arm of the Wnt pathway called the canonical Wnt pathway. As in other organs, the Wnt/β-catenin pathway is critical for liver development. However, recent research suggests that the pathway is also important in liver regeneration, liver metabolism and maintenance of normal function in the adult liver. Aberrant activation of β-catenin has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of hepatobiliary neoplasia, ranging from benign lesions to liver cancer. The explosion of research into the many roles of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway promises to change our fundamental understanding of normal liver biology and the aberrations that lead to disease and cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / physiology*


  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin