Wnt signaling in bone development and disease: making stronger bone with Wnts

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Dec 1;4(12):a007997. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a007997.


The skeleton as an organ is widely distributed throughout the entire vertebrate body. Wnt signaling has emerged to play major roles in almost all aspects of skeletal development and homeostasis. Because abnormal Wnt signaling causes various human skeletal diseases, Wnt signaling has become a focal point of intensive studies in skeletal development and disease. As a result, promising effective therapeutic agents for bone diseases are being developed by targeting the Wnt signaling pathway. Understanding the functional mechanisms of Wnt signaling in skeletal biology and diseases highlights how basic and clinical studies can stimulate each other to push a quick and productive advancement of the entire field. Here we review the current understanding of Wnt signaling in critical aspects of skeletal biology such as bone development, remodeling, mechanotransduction, and fracture healing. We took special efforts to place fundamentally important discoveries in the context of human skeletal diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Development / physiology*
  • Bone Diseases / drug therapy
  • Bone Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Cartilage / metabolism
  • Cartilage / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Fracture Healing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joints / metabolism
  • Joints / physiology
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteoblasts / physiology*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • beta Catenin