Article BLSA Open Data

What is it and what does it include? 

The National Institute on Aging’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) is America's longest-running scientific study of human aging. It began in 1958; today, the BLSA is world-renowned, having generated thousands of scientific papers and having made major contributions to our understanding of what it means to get older. The study includes more than 1,300 male and female BLSA participants ranging in age from their twenties to 100s, who come regularly for a variety of tests to help scientists observe changes over years of life. BLSA data available on the ADDI platform are a subset of the available measures and records that are designated as being open for public use by both the participants and the study. 

How can I use this dataset to advance my research? 

This dataset is ideal if: 

  • you’re interested in studying longitudinal physical and cognitive changes that define aging.  
  • you’re interested in identifying genetic, physical, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect the rate of change in these traits.  
  • you’re looking to understand the interrelationship between aging and chronic disease and other conditions, and their independent and joint impact on age-related decline. 

Has this dataset helped researchers understand Alzheimer’s and other dementias better? 

Of course!  

  • AD & Personality: 

In 2021, researchers aimed to examine whether personality traits are associated with amyloid and tau neuropathology in a new sample and meta-analyses. Their research showed that among cognitively normal BLSA participants, neuroticism was associated with higher cortical amyloid burden, and conscientiousness was associated with lower cortical amyloid burden. These associations remained significant after accounting for age, sex, education, depressive symptoms, hippocampal volume, and APOE ε4. By aggregating results across samples, this study advances knowledge on the association between personality and neuropathology. Neuroticism and conscientiousness may contribute to resistance against amyloid and tau neuropathology. September 2021  – DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.08.021 

  • AD & mitochondrial energetics: 

In 2022, researchers aimed to study whether mitochondrial dysfunction predicts subsequent mobility decline. After examining 380 cognitively normal participants aged 60 and older who were well-functioning and free of Parkinson's disease and stroke at baseline, they found that among initially well-functioning older adults, worse muscle mitochondrial function predicts mobility decline, and part of this longitudinal association is explained by decline in muscle strength and mass. Their findings suggest that worse mitochondrial function contributes to mobility decline with aging. These findings need to be verified in studies correlating longitudinal changes in mitochondrial function, muscle, and mobility performance. January 2022 – DOI: 10.1111/acel.13552 

Manuscripts citing this dataset 

  • The BLSA has generated hundreds of scientific papers and made major contributions to our understanding of aging and the aging process. On this page, you can explore BLSA publications from 1982 to the present: publications. 

Request access 

Data access can be requested via AD Workbench FAIR portal here. Once you have submitted your access request, your application will be reviewed by the BLSA team. Once your access has been provisioned you will receive an email with instructions for federated access including a link to access your API token. For a quick explanation on what is federated data and how to access it, see this video. 

Data Use Agreement 

Please refer to the BLSA Data Sharing Schedules, Processes and Required Agreements here. 

Publishing results using this dataset? 

The dataset owner has specified no requirements when publishing results using this dataset. 


Post a question or thought about this dataset here.