Interrelationship of canonical and non-canonical Wnt signalling pathways in chronic metabolic diseases

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© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Chronic diseases account for approximately 45% of all deaths in developed countries and are particularly prevalent in countries with the most sophisticated and robust public health systems. Chronic metabolic diseases, specifically lifestyle-related diseases pertaining to diet and exercise, continue to be difficult to treat clinically. The most prevalent of these chronic metabolic diseases include obesity, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease and will be the focus of this review. Wnt proteins are highly conserved glycoproteins best known for their role in development and homeostasis of tissues. Given the importance of Wnt signalling in homeostasis, aberrant Wnt signalling likely regulates metabolic processes and may contribute to the development of chronic metabolic diseases. Expression of Wnt proteins and dysfunctional Wnt signalling has been reported in multiple chronic diseases. It is interesting to speculate about an interrelationship between the Wnt signalling pathways as a potential pathological mechanism in chronic metabolic diseases. The aim of this review is to summarize reported findings on the contrasting roles of Wnt signalling in lifestyle-related chronic metabolic diseases; specifically, the contribution of Wnt signalling to lipid accumulation, fibrosis and chronic low-grade inflammation.