1. Efferent projections eliciting vasodilatation when the preoptic area is warmed were investigated by monitoring tail vasomotor responses of ketamine-anaesthetized rats when brain areas were stimulated electrically (0.2 mA, 200 μs, 30 Hz) or with the excitatory amino acid D,L-homocysteic acid (1 mM, 0.3 μl). 2. Both stimulations elicited vasodilatation when applied within a region extending from the most caudal part of the lateral hypothalamus to the ventrolateral periaqueductal grey matter (PAG) and the reticular formation ventrolateral to the PAG. 3. Vasodilatation elicited by preoptic warming was suppressed when either stimulation was applied within the rostral part of the ventral tegmental area (VTA). 4. Sustained vasodilatation was elicited by knife cuts caudal to the VTA, and vasodilatation elicited by preoptic warming was suppressed by cuts either rostral to the VTA or in the region including the PAG and the reticular formation ventrolateral to it. 5. These results, together with the results of earlier physiological and histological studies, suggest that warm-sensitive neurones in the preoptic area send excitatory signals to vasodilatative neurones in the caudal part of the lateral hypothalamus, ventrolateral PAG and reticular formation, and send inhibitory signals to vasoconstrictive neurones in the rostral part of the VTA.
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