An update on the use of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulators for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2023 Mar;24(4):495-509. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2023.2178898. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Introduction: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disorder of the CNS manifested by recurrent attacks of neurological symptoms (related to focal inflammation) and gradual disability accrual (related to progressive neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation). Sphingosine-1-phosphate-receptor (S1PR) modulators are a class of oral disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for relapsing MS. The first S1PR modulator developed and approved for MS was fingolimod, followed by siponimod, ozanimod, and ponesimod. All are S1P analogues with different S1PR-subtype selectivity. They restrain the S1P-dependent lymphocyte egress from lymph nodes by binding the lymphocytic S1P-subtype-1-receptor. Depending on their pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, they can also interfere with other biological functions.

Areas covered: Our narrative review covers the PubMed English literature on S1PR modulators in MS until August 2022. We discuss their pharmacology, efficacy, safety profile, and risk management recommendations based on the results of phase II and III clinical trials. We briefly address their impact on the risk of infections and vaccines efficacy.

Expert opinion: S1PR modulators decrease relapse rate and may modestly delay disease progression in people with relapsing MS. Aside their established benefit, their place and timing within the long-term DMT strategy in MS, as well as their immunological effects in the new and evolving context of the post-COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination campaigns warrant further study.

Keywords: Fingolimod; multiple sclerosis; ozanimod; ponesimod; siponimod; sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulators.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • Pandemics
  • Recurrence
  • Sphingosine 1 Phosphate Receptor Modulators* / pharmacology
  • Sphingosine 1 Phosphate Receptor Modulators* / therapeutic use
  • Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptors / metabolism


  • Sphingosine 1 Phosphate Receptor Modulators
  • Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptors