Vitamin D Levels in Multiple Sclerosis Impact Epstein-Barr Viral Load

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Viral load of Epstien-Barr virus and human herpesvirus 6 may be higher in patients with MS who also have low vitamin D levels.

Serum vitamin D levels may have an impact on the replication/reactivation of Epstien-Barr virus (EBV) in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to research presented at the 7th joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting, held October 25-28 in Paris, France.

Researchers examined data from 200 people with MS to examine the relationship between patients’ vitamin D levels and viral status by examining the reactivation and replication of EBV and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) based on levels of serum vitamin D.

Two blood and serum samples were collected from each patient over 1 year (1 per 6-month period), as well as extraction of DNA to determine EBV and HHV-6 viral load and serum vitamin D level. 

During the first semester, the mean serum vitamin D level was 17.5 ng/mL (range: 15.5 to 19.3 ng/mL in March and June, respectively); median for the second part of the year was 24.6 ng/mL (range: 19.6 and 28.4 ng/mL in December and September, respectively).

Study investigators found that serum vitamin D level had an impact on EBV but not HHV-6 viral load: 22% of patients with serum vitamin D levels >11 ng/mL tested positive for EBV compared with 4% of patients with serum vitamin D levels <20 ng/mL (P =.03). These differences were not replicated in the second half of the year. 

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“Vitamin D levels could be involved in the regulation of the replication/reactivation of EBV in peripheral blood cells of [patients with MS],” the researchers concluded. “Moreover, viral load seems to be higher when 25-(OH)D2 levels in serum are low. Further studies…are required.”


Dominguez-Mozo MI, Perez-Perez S, Garcia-Martinez MA, et al. Vitamin D serum levels and viral load of human herpesvirus 6 and Epstein-Barr virus in patients with multiple sclerosis after one year of follow-up. Presented at: 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting. October 25-28, 2017; Paris, France. Abstract P1007.