Skin exposure to UVB light induces a skin-brain-gonad axis and sexual behavior

Roma Parikh, Eschar Sorek, Shivang Parikh, Keren Michael, Lior Bikovski, Sagi Tshori, Galit Shefer, Shira Mingelgreen, Taiba Zornitzki, Hilla Knobler, Gabriel Chodick, Mariya Mardamshina, Arjan Boonman, Noga Kronfeld-Schor, Hadas Bar-Joseph, Dalit Ben-Yosef, Hadar Amir, Mor Pavlovsky, Hagit Matz, Tom Ben-DovTamar Golan, Eran Nizri, Daphna Liber, Yair Liel, Ronen Brenner, Yftach Gepner, Orit Karnieli-Miller, Rina Hemi, Ruth Shalgi, Tali Kimchi, Ruth Percik, Aron Weller, Carmit Levy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Scopus citations


    Ultraviolet (UV) light affects endocrinological and behavioral aspects of sexuality via an unknown mechanism. Here we discover that ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure enhances the levels of sex-steroid hormones and sexual behavior, which are mediated by the skin. In female mice, UVB exposure increases hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis hormone levels, resulting in larger ovaries; extends estrus days; and increases anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) expression. UVB exposure also enhances the sexual responsiveness and attractiveness of females and male-female interactions. Conditional knockout of p53 specifically in skin keratinocytes abolishes the effects of UVB. Thus, UVB triggers a skin-brain-gonadal axis through skin p53 activation. In humans, solar exposure enhances romantic passion in both genders and aggressiveness in men, as seen in analysis of individual questionaries, and positively correlates with testosterone level. Our findings suggest opportunities for treatment of sex-steroid-related dysfunctions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number109579
    JournalCell Reports
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - 24 Aug 2021


    • HPG axis
    • UVB
    • behavioral
    • hormones
    • p53
    • questionnaires
    • sexuality
    • skin
    • solar
    • testosterone

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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