Differential expression of STAT3 gene and its regulatory long non-coding RNAs, namely lnc-DC and THRIL, in two eastern Iranian ethnicities with multiple sclerosis



Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) revealed that variants of STAT3 are associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) risk. There are several studies showing the effect of ethnicity and genetic background on the characteristics of MS. Here, we aimed to investigate STAT3 gene expression status along with its two regulatory long non-coding RNAs, lnc-DC and THRIL, in order to compare the expression of these target genes among two different ethnicities in the east of Iran.


A case-control study was performed between two groups of MS populations in east of Iran. We recruited individuals with Kurdish ethnicity from North Khorasan and Sistani ethnicity from southeast of Iran. The peripheral blood mononuclear cells were obtained from all participants, and total RNA was extracted. The gene expression of the selected genes was evaluated by qPCR.


The expression of THRIL in North Khorasan MS patients was significantly higher than controls (P = 0.03). The results of simultaneous analysis of expression of the target genes (STAT3, THRIL, and lnc-DC) in both ethnic groups failed to show any significant difference between the MS patients and controls (P > 0.05). In addition, the expression of STAT3 and THRIL genes in Sistani MS patients was statistically meaningful lower than healthy controls (P < 0.05).


To our knowledge, this is the first study that compared the expression of the STAT3 gene and its regulatory molecules between two ethnic groups of Iranian MS patients. We suggested that STAT3 and its associated molecules might be differentially expressed and regulated in MS patients with different genetic background.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the patients and healthy controls for their blood donations and Mrs. Masoumeh Heidary for help in preparing the samples of south participants.


This research received supports from North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences with grant numbers 93p790 and 95p920.

Author information




M.P.K., N.R., and A.N. contributed to the conception and design of the study and data collection; A.A. and M.A. contributed to data analysis, and A.A., Gh.S., and M.B. contributed to writing and revising the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Abbas Nikravesh.

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All procedures performed here, including human participants, were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Pahlevan Kakhki, M., Rakhshi, N., Emami Aleagha, M.S. et al. Differential expression of STAT3 gene and its regulatory long non-coding RNAs, namely lnc-DC and THRIL, in two eastern Iranian ethnicities with multiple sclerosis. Neurol Sci 41, 561–568 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-019-04092-y

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  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Long non-coding RNA
  • STAT3
  • lnc-DC