Trends Mol Med, Mar 2013

Wnt your brain be inflamed? Yes, it Wnt!

Marchetti B, Pluchino S


The roles of Wnts in neural development, synaptogenesis, and cancer are generally well characterized. Nonetheless, evidence exists that interactions between the immune and nervous systems control major brain regenerative processes ranging from physiological or pathological (reparative) regeneration to neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. Recent studies describe deregulated Wnt-Fzd signaling in degenerative and inflammatory central nervous system (CNS) disorders, and the expression of Wnt signaling components in the immune system, and in immune-like cells of the mammalian CNS. This would suggest a likely involvement of Wnts in inflammation-driven brain damage and inflammation-directed brain repair. Here, we review how Wnts modulate neuroimmune interactions and offer a perspective on the most challenging therapeutic opportunities for those CNS diseases where injury-reactive Wnt-flavored inflammation precedes secondary neurodegeneration.


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