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Although multiple sclerosis (MS) is recognized as a disorder involving the immune system, the interplay of environmental factors and individual genetic susceptibility seems to influence MS onset and clinical expression, as well as therapeutic responsiveness. Multiple human epidemiological and animal model studies have evaluated the effect of different environmental factors, such as viral infections, vitamin intake, sun exposure, or still dietary and life habits on MS prevalence. Previous Epstein-Barr virus infection, especially if this infection occurs in late childhood, and lack of vitamin D (VitD) currently appear to be the most robust environmental factors for the risk of MS, at least from an epidemiological standpoint. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) activates VitD production but there are also some elements supporting the fact that insufficient UVR exposure during childhood may represent a VitD-independent risk factor of MS development, as well as negative effect on the clinical and radiological course of MS. Recently, there has been a growing interest in the gut-brain axis, a bidirectional neuro-hormonal communication system between the intestinal microbiota and the central nervous system (CNS). Indeed, components of the intestinal microbiota may be pro-inflammatory, promote the migration of immune cells into the CNS, and thus be a key parameter for the development of autoimmune disorders such as MS. Interestingly most environmental factors seem to play a role during childhood. Thus, if childhood is the most fragile period to develop MS later in life, preventive measures should be applied early in life. For example, adopting a diet enriched in VitD, playing outdoor and avoiding passive smoking would be extremely simple measures of primary prevention for public health strategies. However, these hypotheses need to be confirmed by prospective evaluations, which are obviously difficult to conduct. In addition, it remains to be determined whether and how VitD supplementation in adult life would be useful in alleviating the course of MS, once this disease has already started. A better knowledge of the influence of various environmental stimuli on MS risk and course would certainly allow the development of add-on therapies or measures in parallel to the immunotherapies currently used in MS.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.