1) Exercise for health promotion and disease prevention

In 1991, a WHO Collaborating Center for Health Promotion through Research and Training in Sports Medicine was established in our department, the first in the world (cancelled in 2005). Since then, we have been collaborating domestically and internationally with governments, research institutions and research organizations to widely provide guidelines, programs and research opportunities as well as to exchange information in health promotion and sports medicine. Particularly, we take part in the development of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) that is now utilized globally.

2) Evaluation of physiological response to exercise

Our group is investigating physiological response to exercise with non-invasive measurement methods such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, near-infrared spectroscopy and ultrasonic Doppler. For example, we examine the mismatch between energy metabolism in skeletal muscle and dynamic changes in muscle oxygenation, heterogeneity of tissue oxygenation, and blood flow redistribution, primarily focusing on visceral blood flow. Outcomes obtained from those experiments support the prevention of lifestyle-related disease and help us develop an effective exercise strategy for cardiac rehabilitation.

3) Translational research at cardiac rehabilitation center

At the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, heart and blood vessel disorder rehabilitation is conducted for patients with coronary artery disease, chronic heart failure and peripheral artery disease as well as patients after cardiac surgery. The clinical data obtained will support innovation of a new clinical application for medical checkup systems using the peripheral circulation index determined by near-infrared spectroscopy and ultrasonic Doppler.

4) Brown adipose tissue as a therapy

Increased metabolism at rest has an effect to prevent obesity and lifestyle-related disease and brown adipose tissue is associated with cold-induced thermogenesis, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Thus, it is expected that production of brown adipose tissue could prevent obesity and lifestyle-related disease. Brown adipose tissue is activated by cold stimulation (for example; 17°C for 2 hours every day for 6 weeks); however, this cold stimulation is not practical to perform on a daily basis. Thus, we are examining other possibilities, such as activation by certain foods and sports.

5) Effect of Nattokinase in humans

Natto is a traditional Japanese food eaten for more than one thousand years and a recent report revealed that its viscous component contained an enzyme, nattokinase, which can directly digest thrombus. In vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrate that the enzyme activates fibrinolytic pathways while it reduces thrombus formation by downregulation of coagulation pathways, in addition, it is thought to have anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory functions. However, the mechanisms and efficacy of nattokinase in the human body have not yet been defined. Thus, our group is focusing on the effect of oral administration of nattokinase on the prevention of thrombosis.

6) Prevention of economy class syndrome

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or economy class syndrome is a problem for perioperative patients as well as healthy people who hold a sitting position for a long time in an airplane or at a computer desk. But it is unclear how a long term sitting position physiologically affects our body. Furthermore, DVT has a risk to develop into a pulmonary embolism and there is an urgent need to establish a treatment method. Our laboratory is investigating therapeutics to reduce the risk of DVT by testing thin tights and ankle joint exercise.