Managing MS and
risk of infections

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is generally treated with medications that affect the immune system called disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). DMTs help reduce immune-mediated inflammation in the central nervous system caused by MS.

A closer look at DMTs and their varying risks of infection

DMTs work on different parts of the immune system to help treat MS1

DMTs affect the risk for infection differently, and some are linked to higher risks of infections1 

An overview of how DMTs work

Some DMTs work by eliminating certain types of white blood cells.2-5

  • DMTs that eliminate certain white blood cells may increase the overall risk for infections2-5

Other DMTs work by making it harder for some lymphocytes to move into the blood stream or into the brain, or by changing the inflammatory response.6-8,10,12-14

  • DMTs that reduce the movement of lymphocytes into the blood stream may increase the risk of infections12-14
  • DMTs that change the body’s inflammatory responses tend to have low risk or do not increase the risk of infections6-8

How does your DMT work?

Download and print the DMT overview chart, and talk to your doctor about your DMT at your next appointment.

For complete information about MS, available treatment options, or if you suspect that you’re experiencing any related symptoms, talk to your healthcare professional.

Learn more


1. Pardo G and Jones DE. J Neurol 2017:doi 10.1007/s00415-017-8594-9.

2. Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) Product Monograph. Jun 2020.

3. Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) Product Monograph. Feb 2020.

4. Kesimpta (ofatumumab) Product Monograph. Jan 2021.

5. Mavenclad (cladribine) Product Monograph. Nov 2020.

6. Avonex (interferon beta-1a) Product Monograph. May 2020.

7. Betaseron (interferon beta-1b) Product Monograph. Aug 2016.

8. Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate delayed-release capsules) Product Monograph. Nov 2019.

9. Aubagio (teriflunomide) Product Monograph. Oct 2020.

10. Tysabri (natalizumab) Product Monograph. Jan 2017.

11. Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) Product Monograph. Jun 2020.

12. Gilenya (fingolimod) Product Monograph. Dec 2020.

13. Zeposia (ozanimod) Product Monograph. Oct 2020.

14. Mayzent (siponimod) Product Monograph. Feb 2020.