Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a heterogeneous disease resulting from non-functional ovaries in women before the age of 40. It is characterized by primary amenorrhea or secondary amenorrhea. As regards its etiology, although many POI cases are idiopathic, menopausal age is a heritable trait and genetic factors play an important role in all POI cases with known causes, accounting for approximately 20% to 25% of cases. This paper reviews the selected genetic causes implicated in POI and examines their pathogenic mechanisms to show the crucial role of genetic effects on POI. The genetic factors that can be found in POI cases include chromosomal abnormalities (e.g., X chromosomal aneuploidies, structural X chromosomal abnormalities, X-autosome translocations, and autosomal variations), single gene mutations (e.g., newborn ovary homeobox gene (NOBOX), folliculogenesis specific bHLH transcription factor (FIGLA), follicle-stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR), forkhead box L2 (FOXL2), bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15), etc., as well as defects in mitochondrial functions and non-coding RNAs (small ncRNAs and long ncRNAs). These findings are beneficial for doctors to diagnose idiopathic POI cases and predict the risk of POI in women.
Keywords: POI; folliculogenesis; genetics; mutations; ovary.