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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3520581, 16 pages
Review Article

Distinct Roles of Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling in the Pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

1Center of Laboratory Medicine, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China
2Institute of Human Stem Cell Research, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia 750004, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Xiaoming Liu

Received 28 December 2016; Revised 29 March 2017; Accepted 12 April 2017; Published 15 May 2017

Academic Editor: Teresa Zelante

Copyright © 2017 Juan Shi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Wnt signaling pathways are tightly controlled under a physiological condition, under which they play key roles in many biological functions, including cell fate specification and tissue regeneration. Increasing lines of evidence recently demonstrated that a dysregulated activation of Wnt signaling, particularly the Wnt/β-catenin signaling, was involved in the pathogenesis of chronic pulmonary diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). In this respect, Wnt signaling interacts with other cellular signaling pathways to regulate the initiation and pathogenic procedures of airway inflammation and remodeling, pulmonary myofibroblast proliferation, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and development of emphysema. Intriguingly, Wnt/β-catenin signaling is activated in IPF; an inhibition of this signaling leads to an alleviation of pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis in experimental models. Conversely, Wnt/β-catenin signaling is inactivated in COPD tissues, and its reactivation results in an amelioration of airspace enlargement with a restored alveolar epithelial structure and function in emphysema models. These studies thus imply distinct mechanisms of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the pathogenesis of these two chronic pulmonary diseases, indicating potential targets for COPD and IPF treatments. This review article aims to summarize the involvement and pathogenic roles of Wnt signaling pathways in the COPD and IPF, with a focus on the implication of Wnt/β-catenin signaling as underlying mechanisms and therapeutic targets in these two incurable diseases.