, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 1653-1662
Date: 17 Feb 2010

Wnt/β-catenin signaling: A novel target for therapeutic intervention of fibrotic kidney disease

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Fibrosis of epithelial parenchymal organs and end-stage organ failure, the final common pathway of many progressive chronic diseases including chronic kidney disease, continue to increase worldwide and are a major determinant of morbidity and mortality. Fibrosis is an active biosynthetic healing response initiated to protect the tissue from injury through the timed release of proteins but leads to serious tissue damage when it becomes independent from the initiating stimulus. Massive deposition of extracellular matrix by accumulation of myofibroblasts and disruption of the normal tissue architecture are characteristic of tissue fibrosis. The highly conserved Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is essential to embryonic development in general and kidney morphogenesis in particular by regulating the expression of target genes, most often through the transcription factor T cell factor (TCF) and/or lymphoid enhancer factor (LEF). Emerging evidence from studies of renal fibrosis suggests that altered Wnt/β-catenin signaling is linked to the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis. The renoprotective properties of some currently available drugs might be attributable in part to inhibition of Wnt signaling. The development of orally active Wnt modulators will provide a potentially important pharmacological tool for further investigating the role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and might offer a novel therapeutic strategy in renal fibrosis.