Wnt/beta-catenin signaling: a promising new target for fibrosis diseases

Physiol Res. 2012;61(4):337-46. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.932289. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is involved in virtually every aspect of embryonic development and also controls homeostatic self-renewal in a number of adult tissues. Recently, emerging evidence from researches of organ fibrosis suggest that sustained Wnt/beta-catenin pathway reactivation is linked to the pathogenesis of fibrotic disorders. Here we focus on Wnt/beta-catenin-related pathogenic effects in different organs, such as lung fibrosis, liver fibrosis, skin fibrosis and renal fibrosis. Additionally, Wnt/beta-catenin signaling works in a combinatorial manner with TGF-beta signaling in the process of fibrosis, and TGF-beta signaling can induce expression of Wnt/beta-catenin superfamily members and vice versa. Moreover, network analysis, based on pathway databases, revealed that key factors in the Wnt pathway were targeted by some differentially expressed microRNAs detected in fibrosis diseases. These findings demonstrated the crosstalks between Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and TGF-beta signalings, and microRNAs, highlighting the role of Wnts in organ fibrogenesis. Most importantly, nowadays there is a variety of Wnt pathway inhibitors which give us the potential therapeutic feasibility, modulation of the Wnt pathway may, therefore, present as a suitable and promising therapeutic strategy in the future.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway*
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • beta Catenin