The Embryological Landscape of Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome: Genetics and Environmental Factors

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Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine


Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome is a disorder caused by Müllerian ducts dysgenesis affecting 1 in 5000 women with a typical 46,XX karyotype. The etiology of MRKH syndrome is complex and largely unexplained. Familial clustering suggests a genetic component and the spectrum of clinical presentations seems consistent with an inheritance pattern characterized by incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. Mutations of several candidate genes have been proposed as possible causes based on genetic analyses of human patients and animal models. In addition, studies of monozygotic twins with discordant phenotypes suggest a role for epigenetic changes following potential exposure to environmental compounds. The spectrum of clinical presentations is consistent with intricate disruptions of shared developmental pathways or signals during early organogenesis. However, the lack of functional validation and translational studies have limited our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in this condition. The clinical management of affected women, including early diagnosis, genetic testing of MRKH syndrome, and the implementation of counseling strategies, is significantly impeded by these knowledge gaps. Here, we illustrate the embryonic development of tissues and organs affected by MRKH syndrome, highlighting key pathways that could be involved in its pathogenesis. In addition, we will explore the genetics of this condition, as well as the potential role of environmental factors, and discuss their implications to clinical practice.


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Müllerian ducts, Müllerian anomalies, MRKH syndrome, Disorders of Sex Development,, Wolffian ducts, Genetics, Sex development


Kyei-Barffour, I., Margetts, M., Vash-Margita, A., & Pelosi, E. (2021). The Embryological Landscape of Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome: Genetics and Environmental Factors. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 94(4), 657–672.
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