Sun-seeking Behaviour Linked to Genes Involved in Addiction, Behavioural and Personality Traits

Priscilla Lynch 

September 15, 2020

'Sun-seeking' behaviour is linked to genes involved in addiction, behavioural and personality traits and brain function, and has heritable factors, suggests a study of twins and two major biobank populations, published in  Investigational Dermatology.

Using data from 2500 middle-aged female twins from the TwinsUK cohort, for which detailed sun-seeking behavioural traits, skin phenotypes as well as extensive health-related and demographic information was collected, the researchers first investigated whether sun-seeking behaviour was under genetic control.

They observed sun-seeking to be significantly heritable, both for holidays abroad and sunbathing in the UK; heritability of 58 per cent (95% CI, 54%-63%) and 67 per cent (95% CI, 62-70%), respectively, with identical twins more likely to have a similar sun-seeking behaviour than non-identical twins.

They then carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS)-based meta-analysis of two large samples of European origin from the UK (UK Biobank) and the US (Harvard), including 236,362 and 25,553 individuals, respectively, for whom genome-wide genetic data and information on hours of sun exposure were available.

This identified five GWAS-significant loci, previously associated with addiction, behavioural and personality traits, cognitive function and educational attainment and enriched for central nervous system gene expression: MIR2113 (P=2.08×10−11), FAM76B/MTMR2/CEP57 (P=3.70×10−9), CADM2 (P=9.36×10 −9), TMEM182 (P=1.64×10−8) and PLCL1/LINC01923/SATB2 (P=3.93×10−8).

The study authors said the findings imply that the behaviour concerning ultraviolet exposure is complicated by a genetic predisposition shared with neuropsychological traits.

Senior author Dr Mario Falchi said: “Our results suggest that tackling excessive sun exposure or use of tanning beds might be more challenging than expected, as it is influenced by genetic factors. It is important for the public to be aware of this predisposition, as it could make people more mindful of their behaviour and the potential harms of excessive sun exposure.”

Marianna S, Xin L, Alessia V, Maxim BF, Chiara S, Simone R, Pirro H, Veronique B, Jiali H, Mario F. Looking for sunshine: genetic predisposition to sun-seeking in 265,000 individuals of European ancestry. J Invest Dermatol. 2020 Sep 10 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2020.08.014 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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