Wnt/Β-Catenin and Sex Hormone Signaling in Endometrial Homeostasis and Cancer
A delicate balance between estrogen and progestagen signaling underlies proper functioning of the female reproductive tract and, in particular, the monthly re- and degenerative phases characteristic of the menstrual cycle. Here, we propose that the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway may underlie this finely tuned hormonal equilibrium in endometrial homeostasis and, upon its constitutive activation, lead to neoplastic transformation of the endometrium. During the menstrual cycle, estradiol will enhance Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the proliferative phase, while progesterone inhibits Wnt/β-catenin signaling, thus restraining estrogens’ proliferative actions, during the secretory phase. In case of enhanced or unopposed estrogen signaling, constitutive activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling will trigger endometrial hyperplasia, which may develop further into endometrial cancer.