Skin epidermal keratinocyte p53 induces food uptake upon UV exposure

Shivang Parikh, Roma Parikh, Marco Harari, Aron Weller, Lior Bikovski, Carmit Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The first cells affected by UVB exposure are epidermal keratinocytes, and p53, the genome guardian, is activated in these cells when skin is exposed to UVB. UVB exposure induces appetite, but it remains unclear whether p53 in epidermal keratinocytes plays a role in this appetite stimulation. Results: Here we found that food intake was increased following chronic daily UVB exposure in a manner that depends on p53 expression in epidermal keratinocytes. p53 conditional knockout in epidermal keratinocytes reduced food intake in mice upon UVB exposure. Methods: To investigate the effects of p53 activation following UVB exposure, mice behavior was assessed using the staircase, open-field, elevated-plus maze, and conditioned-place preference tests. In addition to effects on appetite, loss of p53 resulted in anxiety-related behaviors with no effect on activity level. Discussion: Since skin p53 induces production of β-endorphin, our data suggest that UVB-mediated activation of p53 results in an increase in β-endorphin levels which in turn influences appetite. Our study positions UVB as a central environmental factor in systemic behavior and has implications for the treatment of eating and anxiety-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1281274
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Parikh, Parikh, Harari, Weller, Bikovski and Levy.


The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. CL acknowledges grant support from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (grant agreement no. 726225), the I-CORE Gene Regulation in Complex Human Disease Center (no. 41/11), Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (grant 129/13) and the UTI – Dead Sea Research Institute grant. SP is the recipient of a 2017 I-core Travel Scholarship, 4th Djerassi Graduate Student Symposium 2019 Award, 2020 Student Excellence Award at the Department of Human Genetics and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, CBRC 2nd Zvi and Esther Weinstat Graduate Student 2020 Award, and EMBO Scientific Exchange Grant (no. 9256). Research in AW’s lab was supported in part by the ISF (grant 1781/16) and the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology (grants 3–13608 and 84/19).

FundersFunder number
Department of Human Genetics and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
I-CORE Gene Regulation in Complex Human Disease Center41/11
UTI – Dead Sea Research Institute
European Molecular Biology Organization9256, 1781/16
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme726225
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation129/13
Ministry of science and technology, Israel3–13608, 84/19


    • UVB exposure
    • anxiety-related behaviors
    • conditioned-place preference
    • epidermal keratinocytes
    • food intake motivation
    • mice
    • p53 activation


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