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Brain: Preoptic area
Preoptic area is 'PO', at left, in blue.
Latin '
Gray's subject #
Part of
BrainInfo/UW hier-360
MeSH A08.186.211.730.385.357.342.450

The preoptic area is a rostal region of the hypothalamus. According to the MeSH classification, it is considered part of the anterior hypothalamus. It is usually considered to be divided into the lateral and medial preoptic areas


The preoptic area is responsible for thermoregulation and receives nervous stimulation from thermoreceptors in the skin, mucous membranes and hypothalamus itself.

This area propagates stimuli to either the heat-losing or heat-promoting centres of the hypothalamus.

Lateral preoptic area

Medial preoptic area

This is the forebrain region partially responsible for male sexual behavior and this is demonstrate by the fact that lesions eliminates the copulatory response [citation needed] while stimulation produces it [citation needed].


There are four nuclei in this region, according to Terminologia Anatomica:

  • nucleus preopticus lateralis (lateral preoptic nucleus)
  • nucleus preopticus medialis (medial preoptic nucleus)
  • nucleus preopticus medianus (median preoptic nucleus)
  • nucleus preopticus periventricularis (periventricular preoptic nucleus)

Medial preoptic nucleus

Medial preoptic nucleus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone.

Median preoptic nucleus

The median preoptic nucleus generates thirst. Drinking decreases noradrenaline release in the median preoptic nucleus[1]


Studies in female mice have shown that estrogen receptor-alpha declines in the pre-optic hypothalamus as they grow old. The female mice that were given a calorically restricted diet during the majority of their lives, maintained higher levels of ERα in the pre-optic hypothalamus than their non-calorically restricted counterparts. [2]


  1. Drinking decreases the noradrenaline release in the median preoptic area caused by hypovolemia in the rat Hiroko Miyakuboa, b, Kazuo Yamamotob, Satoko Hatakenakaa, Yasushi Hayashic and Junichi Tanaka
  2. Yaghmaie F, Saeed O, Garan SA, Freitag W, Timiras PS, Sternberg H. (2005). Caloric restriction reduces cell loss and maintains estrogen receptor-alpha immunoreactivity in the pre-optic hypothalamus of female B6D2F1 mice.. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 26 (3): 197-203.

See also

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