Wnt signaling encompasses multiple and complex signaling cascades and is involved in many developmental processes such as tissue patterning, cell fate specification, and control of cell division. Consequently, accurate regulation of signaling activities is essential for proper embryonic development. Wnt signaling is mostly silent in the healthy adult organs but a reactivation of Wnt signaling is generally observed under pathological conditions. This has generated increasing interest in this pathway from a therapeutic point of view. In this review article, the involvement of Wnt signaling in cardiovascular development will be outlined, followed by its implication in myocardial infarct healing, cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, arrhythmias, and atherosclerosis. The initial experiments not always offer consensus on the effects of activation or inactivation of the pathway, which may be attributed to (i) the type of cardiac disease, (ii) timing of the intervention, and (iii) type of cells that are targeted. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the exact implication of Wnt signaling in the conditions mentioned above to exploit it as a powerful therapeutic target.
© 2015 American Physiological Society.