COVID-19 and Multiple Sclerosis: A Complex Relationship Possibly Aggravated by Low Vitamin D Levels

Cells. 2023 Feb 21;12(5):684. doi: 10.3390/cells12050684.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an exceptionally transmissible and pathogenic coronavirus that appeared at the end of 2019 and triggered a pandemic of acute respiratory disease, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 can evolve into a severe disease associated with immediate and delayed sequelae in different organs, including the central nervous system (CNS). A topic that deserves attention in this context is the complex relationship between SARS-CoV-2 infection and multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we initially described the clinical and immunopathogenic characteristics of these two illnesses, accentuating the fact that COVID-19 can, in defined patients, reach the CNS, the target tissue of the MS autoimmune process. The well-known contribution of viral agents such as the Epstein-Barr virus and the postulated participation of SARS-CoV-2 as a risk factor for the triggering or worsening of MS are then described. We emphasize the contribution of vitamin D in this scenario, considering its relevance in the susceptibility, severity and control of both pathologies. Finally, we discuss the experimental animal models that could be explored to better understand the complex interplay of these two diseases, including the possible use of vitamin D as an adjunct immunomodulator to treat them.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; immunopathogenesis; multiple sclerosis; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Multiple Sclerosis*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vitamin D


  • Vitamin D

Grant support

D.M.F. was supported by FAPESP 2021/06881-5 and CNPq scholarship 313429/2020-0; A.S. was supported by JBS S.A. and CNPq scholarship 307269/2017-5; W.D.F.S. received scholarships from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) 88882.495054/2020-01.