Dietary Polyphenols, Microbiome, and Multiple Sclerosis: From Molecular Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective Mechanisms to Clinical Evidence

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Apr 14;24(8):7247. doi: 10.3390/ijms24087247.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a multifactorial, immune-mediated disease caused by complex gene-environment interactions. Dietary factors modulating the inflammatory status through the control of the metabolic and inflammatory pathways and the composition of commensal gut microbiota, are among the main environmental factors involved in the pathogenesis of MS. There is no etiological therapy for MS and the drugs currently used, often accompanied by major side effects, are represented by immunomodulatory substances capable of modifying the course of the disease. For this reason, nowadays, more attention is paid to alternative therapies with natural substances with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as adjuvants of classical therapies. Among natural substances with beneficial effects on human health, polyphenols are assuming an increasing interest due to their powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. Beneficial properties of polyphenols on the CNS are achieved through direct effects depending on their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and indirect effects exerted in part via interaction with the microbiota. The aim of this review is to examine the literature about the molecular mechanism underlying the protective effects of polyphenols in MS achieved by experiments conducted in vitro and in animal models of the disease. Significant data have been accumulated for resveratrol, curcumin, luteolin, quercetin, and hydroxytyrosol, and therefore we will focus on the results obtained with these polyphenols. Clinical evidence for the use of polyphenols as adjuvant therapy in MS is restricted to a smaller number of substances, mainly curcumin and epigallocatechin gallate. In the last part of the review, a clinical trial studying the effects of these polyphenols in MS patients will also be revised.

Keywords: curcumin; epigallocatechin gallate; hydroxytyrosol; luteolin; microbiome; multiple sclerosis; neuroprotection; polyphenols; quercetin; resveratrol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use


  • Curcumin
  • Polyphenols
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.