Wnts function through the activation of at least three intracellular signal transduction pathways, of which the canonical β-catenin mediated pathway is the best understood. Aberrant canonical Wnt signaling has been involved in both neurodegeneration and cancer. An impairment of Wnt signals appears to be associated with aspects of neurodegenerative pathologies while overactivation of Wnt signaling is a common theme in several types of human tumors. Therefore, although therapeutic approaches aimed at modulating Wnt signaling in neurodegenerative and hyperproliferative diseases might impinge on the same molecular mechanisms, different pharmacological outcomes are required. Here we review recent developments on the understanding of the role of Wnt signaling in Alzheimer's disease and CNS tumors, and identify possible avenues for therapeutic intervention within a complex and multi-faceted signaling pathway.

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