IMR Press / JIN / Volume 20 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.392
Open Access Review
Vitamin D, Epstein-Barr virus, and endogenous retroviruses in multiple sclerosis - facts and hypotheses
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1 Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Von-Danckelmann-Platz 2, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
2 Department of Surgical and Conservative Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Ernst-Grube-Straße 40, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
*Correspondence: (Christine Brütting)
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2021, 20(1), 233–238;
Submitted: 24 November 2020 | Revised: 18 January 2021 | Accepted: 22 February 2021 | Published: 30 March 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

The pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) remains poorly understood. Presumably, MS is caused by multiple environmental, epigenetic, and genetic factors. Among them, human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and vitamin D have been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis and course of MS. Because vitamin D can affect the immune system and infections, it can be hypothesized that there is a close interplay between vitamins, EBV and ERV in the pathogenesis of MS. Here, we summarize the important data on vitamin D, including polymorphisms in genes related to vitamin D metabolism, EBV and ERV, in the pathogenesis of MS and create hypotheses regarding their interactions. Data indicate that vitamin D has a strong impact on viral infections and interferes with EBV infection, while EBV is capable of activating silent ERVs. We believe that EBV could be the missing link between vitamin D and ERV in MS pathogenesis.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Genetic polymorphisms
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs)
Vitamin D
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