Anti-Aging Project


As oxygen concentration level decreases to one third of sea level at the peak of Qomolangma, one’s aerobic ability is said to decline in respect to increase in altitude, in which 75 year old Yuichiro Miura’s body age will become equivalent to age 150 (Source: Exercise Physiology of Mountaineering and Climbing by Professor Masayoshi Yamamoto, National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya). This estimated body age indicates that Yuichiro must endure climbing activities in extreme condition at age much older than the actual oldest person ever lived Ms. Jeanne Louise Calment (who lived until age 122). Thus, in order to sustain climbing activities above 8000m, he must theoretically reverse his aging processes about 100 years in numbers on top of fighting his heart problem.

In this Qomolangma Project, two medically and scientifically approached studies will be conducted.

Anti-aging Study
High Altitude Climbing and Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

Atrial Fibrillation (AF; one of heart arrhythmia; irregular and fast electrical excitements occur in part of atrium, causing cardiac output to decrease and triggering thrombosis (clogging in blood stream) is one of the most prevalent arrhythmia which is common among elderly population. Yuichiro began experiencing such condition during Qomolangma Expedition in 2005, with AF limiting his cardiac capabilities in high altitude and threatening the occurrence of thrombosis. Furthermore, it decreased his motivation to continue climbing which might be the most important factor in such extreme condition. Since the condition did not recover naturally even after descending from high altitude and further proceeded into chronic AF, specialized doctor team was comprised soon after his returning to Japan: Dr. Yoshinori Kobayashi (Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Nippon Medical School), Dr. Morimasa Takayama (Chief Physician, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Sakakibara Heart Institute), Dr. Yoshito Iesaka (Vice Director, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Tsuchiura Kyodo General Hospital), and Dr. Kikuya Uno (Chief Physician, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Tsuchiura Kyodo General Hospital). Yuichiro underwent two Catheter Ablation operations, and showed improvements in his condition as well as his values in Quality of Life scores (QOL). Yet whether he would be able to maintain this improvement at extremely high condition is still unknown.

In this expedition, Dr. Kobayashi and Dr. Takayama will accompany and monitor Electrical Cardiogram (ECG) and Cardiac functions, to closely monitor his condition for high altitude climbing activities as well as to gather data to study themes indicated below:

  • Effectiveness of Catheter Ablation and medical drug treatment in extremely high altitude condition
  • Effects of high altitude condition in Cardiac functions and autonomic nervous system in elderly (To be measured by portable Echocardiogram)
  • Observations of improvement in QOL questionnaire score specially developed for AF patients in high altitude condition (Scores to be compared before treatment and after acclimatization)
  • Effects of high altitude condition in thrombosis

No precedent study has observed physiological reactions and effectiveness of treatments under extreme mental and physical stress in the world’s highest mountain climbing condition for elderly over age 70. As more and more elderly takes on high altitude climbing today, yet unfortunate increase in accidents in such population seen, the findings of this study may provide insightful information on safety in high altitude mountain climbing for elderly.

Furthermore, Yuichiro scored much younger values in the physical fitness test conducted in National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya than his actual age last year. Whether his fitness level may sustain in high altitude condition will be another interesting observation point. Yuichiro’s data will be compared to Gota’s and will be analyzed for future anti-aging studies.

Anti-Aging Study
Genetic Expression under Hypoxic Environment

Up until the beginning of the 1970’s, climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen was believed to be physically impossible. However, Reinhold Messner from France first succeeded in climbing the Everest without oxygen in 1978. Since then, more than a dozen of climbers reached the summit without oxygen, surviving the ultimate limit of human life endurance.
Later studies found physiological changes under hypoxic (low oxygen condition) stress, such as increase in lung exhalation of CO2, allowing more room for oxygen to be inhaled, and increase in number of red blood cells, allowing them to carry more oxygen per litter of blood, providing explanations of how these climbers reached the summit without oxygen.
However, almost no studies has been conducted on to “WHY” these physiological changes occur.

In this project, why physiological adaptations occur in hypoxic condition will be studied on genetic levels.
Under the supervision of Professor Takuji Shirasawa, MD., Ph.D. (Department of Aging Control, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University), a pioneer in anti-aging studies, Miura Dolphins Co., Ltd. and Anti-Aging Science Inc. has begun a research study of genetic expression and repression under hypoxic environment, using DNA chips (Agilent Technologies, USA,) and normobaric hypoxic chamber set to 4000m (oxygen concentration level of 12.4%) in August 2007. The samples are taken from the 4 summiting members (Yuichiro, Gota, Muraguchi, Igarashi) and are compared to the samples of the control group with the same number of subjects. Results so far have shown that genes are not as static blue print of human physical makeup as previously thought, but are rather sensitive to outside environment and undergo dynamic changes.

The DNA chip of Agilent Technologies show genetic changes by pre-set colors assigned to 23,000 human genes, and shows ranges of color patterns indicating specific genetic expressions and repressions when exposed to hypoxic environment. This current study will conduct analysis of these color patterns to find effects of hypoxia in human body.

Oxygen is an energy source of many living organisms, yet oxygen can also damage genes by emitting free radicals in the process of metabolism. Why does longevity village exist above altitudes of 1000m~2000m? Why do acclimatization effects differ so much among individuals? Why do people age differently? And most of all, what does it mean to have 75 year old Yuichiro Miura to climb the highest peak in the world? This study aims to find hints to answers for these questions and contribute to future anti-aging study.

Safety in High Altitude Climbing
This project also quests to convey and promote safety practices in high altitude climbing. In 2005, Miura Dolphins has established normobaric hypoxic chamber in which oxygen concentration level can be adjusted up to 6000m. Services include pre-expedition acclimatization for climbers and hypoxic training for athletes. Through this facility, the project aims to promote safety measures in high altitude climbing to the general public.