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*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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


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