Preoptic area

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Brain: Preoptic area
Preoptic area is 'PO', at left, in blue.
NeuroNames hier-360
MeSH Preoptic+area
Dorlands/Elsevier n_11/12582622

The preoptic area is a region of the hypothalamus. According to the MeSH classification, it is considered part of the anterior hypothalamus.


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.


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

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


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. [1]


  1. 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. PMID 15990721.

See also