Autoimmune Diseases in Patients with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency-Our Current State of Knowledge

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 5;22(5):2594. doi: 10.3390/ijms22052594.


Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), previously known as premature ovarian failure or premature menopause, is defined as loss of ovarian function before the age of 40 years. The risk of POI before the age of 40 is 1%. Clinical symptoms develop as a result of estrogen deficiency and may include amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, vasomotor instability (hot flushes, night sweats), sleep disturbances, vulvovaginal atrophy, altered urinary frequency, dyspareunia, low libido, and lack of energy. Most causes of POI remain undefined, however, it is estimated that anywhere from 4-30% of cases are autoimmune in origin. As the ovaries are a common target for autoimmune attacks, an autoimmune etiology of POI should always be considered, especially in the presence of anti-oocyte antibodies (AOAs), autoimmune diseases, or lymphocytic oophoritis in biopsy. POI can occur in isolation, but is often associated with other autoimmune conditions. Concordant thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and Grave's disease are most commonly seen. Adrenal autoimmune disorders are the second most common disorders associated with POI. Among women with diabetes mellitus, POI develops in roughly 2.5%. Additionally, autoimmune-related POI can also present as part of autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS), a condition in which autoimmune activity causes specific endocrine organ damage. In its most common presentation (type-3), APS is associated with Hashomoto's type thyroid antibodies and has a prevalence of 10-40%. 21OH-Antibodies in Addison's disease (AD) can develop in association to APS-2.

Keywords: APS; Hashimoto disease; POI; autoimmune.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amenorrhea / immunology
  • Amenorrhea / pathology
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hashimoto Disease / immunology
  • Hashimoto Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Menopause, Premature / immunology
  • Ovary / immunology
  • Ovary / pathology*
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / pathology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / immunology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / pathology*


  • Autoantibodies