Scientific publications

Activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling through WNT5A in visceral adipose tissue of obese subjects is related to inflammation

Aug 1, 2014 | Magazine: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

Catalán V (1), Gómez-Ambrosi J, Rodríguez A, Pérez-Hernández AI, Gurbindo J, Ramírez B, Méndez-Giménez L, Rotellar F, Valentí V, Moncada R, Martí P, Sola I, Silva C, Salvador J, Frühbeck G.


Wingless-type mouse mammary tumor virus integration site family (WNT)-5A is a glycoprotein involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response by activating the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway.

Secreted frizzled-related protein (SFRP)-5 acts as a decoy receptor that binds and sequesters WNT5A, preventing activation of frizzled receptors and attenuating the noncanonical Wnt signaling.


The aim of the study was to evaluate the involvement of WNT5A and SFRP5 in obesity and obesity-related comorbidities as well as to explore their effect in visceral adipose tissue inflammation.


Samples obtained from 90 subjects were used. Circulating and gene expression levels of WNT5A and SFRP5 were analyzed in different metabolic tissues. The effect of TNF-α and lipopolysaccharide on the transcript levels of WNT5A and SFRP5 in adipocytes was explored. We also investigated whether WNT5A itself can activate an inflammatory response.


Increased circulating levels of WNT5A in obese patients (P < .05) were decreased (P < .001) after gastric bypass. In this line, WNT5A mRNA in visceral adipose tissue was increased (P < .05) in obese patients with gene expression levels of SFRP5 being down-regulated (P < .05).

WNT5A mRNA expression was significantly enhanced (P < .01) by lipopolysaccharide and TNF-α treatment, whereas no effects were found in SFRP5 gene expression levels. Furthermore, exogenous WNT5A induced (P < .05) IL-6, IL1B, MMP2, MMP9, and SSP1 mRNA expression in human adipocyte cultures.


Activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling through the up-regulation of WNT5A and down-regulation of SFRP5 may promote a proinflammatory state in visceral adipose tissue contributing to the development of obesity-associated comorbidities.

CITATION  J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Aug;99(8):E1407-17. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-1191. Epub 2014 May 19.