Wnt signaling in biliary development, proliferation, and fibrosis

Lipeng Tian, Yichen Wang, Yoon Young Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biliary fibrosis is an important pathological indicator of hepatobiliary damage. Cholangiocyte is the key cell type involved in this process. To reveal the pathogenesis of biliary fibrosis, it is essential to understand the normal development as well as the aberrant generation and proliferation of cholangiocytes. Numerous reports suggest that the Wnt signaling pathway is implicated in the physiological and pathological processes of cholangiocyte development and ductular reaction. In this review, we summarize the effects of Wnt pathway in cholangiocyte development from embryonic stem cells, as well as the underlying mechanisms of cholangiocyte responses to adult ductal damage. Wnt signaling pathway is regulated in a step-wise manner during each of the liver differentiation stages from embryonic stem cells to functional mature cholangiocytes. With the modulation of Wnt pathway, cholangiocytes can also be generated from adult liver progenitor cells and mature hepatocytes to repair liver damage. Non-canonical Wnt signaling is triggered in the active ductal cells during biliary fibrosis. Targeted control of the Wnt signaling may hold the great potential to reduce and/or reverse the biliary fibrogenic process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-367
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Pluripotent stem cells
  • Wnt signaling pathway
  • biliary fibrosis
  • cholangiocyte
  • ductular reaction
  • hepatobiliary development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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