Sonntag, William E., Ph.D.

William Sonntag, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Contact Information:

Office: BMSB 860


Mailing address:
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
940 S. L. Young Blvd., BMSB 860
Oklahoma City, OK  73104

Phone: (405) 271-1288
Fax:     (405) 271-3092


B.S.     1972  Tufts University
M.S.    1974  University of Bridgeport (CT)
Ph.D.  1979   Tulane University
Post Doctoral Fellowship, Michigan State University

Research Interests:

  • Molecular Endocrinology 
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Gene Therapy
  • Learning and Memory
  1. Molecular mechanisms responsible for changes within the hypothalamus and pituitary of aging animals especially related to growth hormone and IGF-1 regulation (including transcriptional and translational regulatory events).
  2. Relationship between microvascular rarefaction, vascular reactivity and brain aging. Molecular mechanisms contributing to the decline in cognitive ability with age. Effects and mechanisms of action of growth hormone and IGF-1 on brain aging.
  3. Application of DNA array, RT-PCR and functional proteomic measures for assessing molecular basis for age-related changes in physical and cognitive function. 
  4.  Effects of moderate caloric restriction on the development of functional impairments with age and the development of age-related pathologies.
  5. Mechanisms contributing to the decline in cognitive function after ionizing radiation treatment.

For over thirty years, Dr. Sonntag's research interest has been the neuroendocrine alterations that contribute to the degenerative conditions that accompany aging. Research from Dr. Sonntag's laboratory provided the first evidence that growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) secretion decreases with age.  He has done seminal studies related to the neuroendocrine mechanisms that contribute to the reduction in growth hormone and IGF-1 secretion, the effects of moderate caloric restriction on the regulation of growth hormone and IGF-1 axis, and the effects of growth hormone and/or IGF-1 replacement on the function of numerous tissues that decline with age. These studies have included, but are not limited to, effects of these hormones on cellular protein synthesis, metastatic disease, and cardiac and immune function.

His most recent studies have concentrated on the role of growth hormone and IGF-1 on brain aging. He was the first to present evidence that replacement of IGF-1reverses the cognitive decline that occurs with age and that administration of growth hormone or compounds that increase growth hormone and IGF-1 secretion ameliorate the cognitive deficits associated with age.  Dr. Sonntag and his research team have also undertaken studies to establish that growth hormone and IGF-1 increase neurogenesis, synaptic complexity, vascular density, glucose metabolism and blood flow and reverse age-related changes in specific NMDA receptor subtypes in brains of older animals. Most recently, Dr. Sonntag has established a unique model of adult-onset growth hormone and IGF-1 deficiency and determined that early deficiency in these hormones result in the accelerated development of the aging phenotype.

Dr. Sonntag has published more than 130 original manuscripts and reviews, served on the Biochemical Endocrinology Study Section and has been invited to present his research at national and international meetings.

Link to full publication list >