Reduced skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and impaired training adaptations in heart failure

William M. Southern, Terence E. Ryan, Kirsten Kepple, Jonathan R. Murrow, Kent R. Nilsson, Kevin K. McCully

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Systolic heart failure (HF) is associated with exercise intolerance that has been attributed, in part, to skeletal muscle dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to compare skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and training-induced changes in oxidative capacity in participants with and without HF. Participants with HF (n = 16, 65 ± 6.6 years) were compared with control participants without HF (n = 23, 61 ± 5.0 years). A subset of participants (HF: n = 7, controls: n = 5) performed 4 weeks of wrist-flexor exercise training. Skeletal muscle oxidative capacity was determined from the recovery kinetics of muscle oxygen consumption measured by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) following a brief bout of wrist-flexor exercise. Oxidative capacity, prior to exercise training, was significantly lower in the HF participants in both the dominant (1.31 ± 0.30 min–1 vs. 1.59 ± 0.25 min–1, P = 0.002; HF and control groups, respectively) and nondominant arms (1.29 ± 0.24 min–1 vs. 1.46 ± 0.23 min–1, P = 0.04; HF and control groups, respectively). Following 4 weeks of endurance training, there was a significant difference in the training response between HF and controls, as the difference in oxidative training adaptations was 0.69 ± 0.12 min–1 (P < 0.001, 95% CI 0.43, 0.96). The wrist-flexor training induced a ~50% improvement in oxidative capacity in participants without HF (mean difference from baseline = 0.66 ± 0.09 min–1, P < 0.001, 95% CI 0.33, 0.98), whereas participants with HF showed no improvement in oxidative capacity (mean difference from baseline = –0.04 ± 0.08 min–1, P = 0.66, 95% CI –0.24, 0.31), suggesting impairments in mitochondrial biogenesis. In conclusion, participants with HF had reduced oxidative capacity and impaired oxidative adaptations to endurance exercise compared to controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12353
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Exercise training
  • Heart failure
  • Mitochondria
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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