Aberrant Wnt signaling: a special focus in CNS diseases

J Neurogenet. 2017 Dec;31(4):216-222. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2017.1338696. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Wnt signals regulate cell proliferation, migration and differentiation during development, as well as synaptic transmission and plasticity in the adult brain. Abnormal Wnt signaling is central to a number of brain pathologies. We review here, the significance of this pathway focused in the contribution of the most frequent alterations in receptors, secretable modulators and downstream targets in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Glioblastoma (GBM). β-catenin and GSK3 levels are pivotal in the neurodegeneration associated to AD contributing to memory deficits, tau phosphorylation, increased β-amyloid production and modulation of Apolipoprotein E in the brain. In consequence, β-catenin and GSK3 are targets for potential treatments in AD. Also, Wnt pathway components and secreted molecules interfering with this signaling contribute to the progression of tumoral cells. Wnt pathway activation is a bad prognosis in brain cancer; however, mutations in WNT or Frizzled (FZD) genes do not account for the cases of GBM. Instead, recent studies indicate that epigenetic modifications contribute to the development of GBMs opening novel strategies to study GBM progression.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s; cancer; development; frizzled; glioblastoma; neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*


  • Wnt Proteins