Activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling through WNT5A in visceral adipose tissue of obese subjects is related to inflammation

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Aug;99(8):E1407-17. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-1191. Epub 2014 May 19.


Context: Wingless-type mouse mammary tumor virus integration site family (WNT)-5A is a glycoprotein involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response by activating the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway. Secreted frizzled-related protein (SFRP)-5 acts as a decoy receptor that binds and sequesters WNT5A, preventing activation of frizzled receptors and attenuating the noncanonical Wnt signaling.

Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the involvement of WNT5A and SFRP5 in obesity and obesity-related comorbidities as well as to explore their effect in visceral adipose tissue inflammation.

Patients and methods: Samples obtained from 90 subjects were used. Circulating and gene expression levels of WNT5A and SFRP5 were analyzed in different metabolic tissues. The effect of TNF-α and lipopolysaccharide on the transcript levels of WNT5A and SFRP5 in adipocytes was explored. We also investigated whether WNT5A itself can activate an inflammatory response.

Results: Increased circulating levels of WNT5A in obese patients (P < .05) were decreased (P < .001) after gastric bypass. In this line, WNT5A mRNA in visceral adipose tissue was increased (P < .05) in obese patients with gene expression levels of SFRP5 being down-regulated (P < .05). WNT5A mRNA expression was significantly enhanced (P < .01) by lipopolysaccharide and TNF-α treatment, whereas no effects were found in SFRP5 gene expression levels. Furthermore, exogenous WNT5A induced (P < .05) IL-6, IL1B, MMP2, MMP9, and SSP1 mRNA expression in human adipocyte cultures.

Conclusions: Activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling through the up-regulation of WNT5A and down-regulation of SFRP5 may promote a proinflammatory state in visceral adipose tissue contributing to the development of obesity-associated comorbidities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Eye Proteins / physiology
  • Female
  • Gastric Bypass
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / genetics*
  • Obesity, Morbid / metabolism
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / blood
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Thinness / genetics
  • Thinness / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Weight Loss / physiology
  • Wnt Proteins / blood
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics*
  • Wnt-5a Protein


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Eye Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • SFRP5 protein, human
  • WNT5A protein, human
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt-5a Protein