Aging and Alzheimer's disease: lessons from the Nun Study

Gerontologist. 1997 Apr;37(2):150-6. doi: 10.1093/geront/37.2.150.


Sister Mary, the gold standard for the Nun Study, was a remarkable woman who had high cognitive test scores before her death at 101 years of age. What is more remarkable is that she maintained this high status despite having abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease. Findings from Sister Mary and all 678 participants in the Nun Study may provide unique clues about the etiology of aging and Alzheimer's disease, exemplify what is possible in old age, and show how the clinical expression of some diseases may be averted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology