Schematic illustration of Wnt1/Fzd-1/β-catenin signaling as a candidate regulatory circuit controlling mesencephalic dopaminergic neuron-astrocyte crosstalk. Crosstalk between astrocytes and DA neurons represent a cardinal neuroprotective mechanism against inflammation, oxidative stress and growth factor deprivation (10). Here astrocyte-DA neuron crosstalk via Wnt1 is emphasized. Astrocyte-derived Wnt, via activation of Fzd-1 receptors, may contribute to maintain the integrity of DA neurons by influencing Wnt signaling components, including blockade of GSK-3β-induced phosphorylation (P) and proteosomal degradation of the neuronal pool of β-catenin. Stabilized β-catenin can translocate into the nucleus and associate with a family of transcription factors and regulate the expression of Wnt target genes involved in DA neuron survival. β-catenin may also function as a pivotal defense molecule against oxidative stress (79), and can act as a coactivator for several nuclear receptors involved in the maintenance/protection of DA neurons (81). Crosstalk with up-stream survival pathways converging to β-catenin stabilization can also be envisaged (26, 27). Neurotoxic injury or increased oxidative load as a result of aging may antagonize Wnt/β-catenin signaling in DA neurons by up-regulating active GSK-3β, leading to β-catenin degradation and increased DA neuron vulnerability, which may underlie a progressive DA neuron deficit. Neuronal injury also triggers reactive astrocyte expression of a panel of growth and neurotrophic factors, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective mechanisms, among which astrocyte Wnt1 via Fzd-1 receptors may function as a vital component of DA neurons self-protective machinery shifting the balance towards the programming of cell survival/neurorescue.