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Chronic heart failure (CHF) is accompanied by an inflammatory activation which occurs both systemically and in the skeletal muscle. Exercise training has been shown to reduce the local expression of cytokines and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in muscle biopsies of CHF patients. INOS-derived NO can inhibit oxidative phosphorylation and contribute to skeletal muscle dysfunction in CHF.To investigate the correlation between changes in local iNOS expression associated with regular exercise and changes in aerobic enzyme activities in the skeletal muscle of patients with CHF. Twenty male CHF patients [ejection fraction 25% (SE 2), age 54 (SE 2) years] were randomized to a training (n=10) or a control group (C, n=10).At baseline and after 6 months skeletal muscle iNOS expression was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. INOS protein and protein nitrosylation were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity was quantified electrochemically using the Clark oxygen electrode.Exercise training led to a 27% increase in cytochrome c oxidase activity [from 21.8 (SE 3.2) to 27.7 (SE 3.5) nmol O2/mg per min, P=0.02 versus baseline]. Changes in iNOS expression and iNOS protein content were inversely correlated with changes in COX-activity (r=−0.60, P=0.01; r=−0.71, P<0.001).The inverse correlation between iNOS expression/iNOS protein content and COX-activity indicates that local anti-inflammatory effects may contribute to improved muscular oxidative metabolism.