Authors of Journal of Immunology paper retract it after realizing they had ordered the wrong mice
The study, “Endogenous IL-1R1 Signaling Is Critical for Cognate CD41 T Cell Help for Induction of In Vivo Type 1 and Type 2 Antipolysaccharide and Antiprotein Ig Isotype Responses to Intact Streptococcus pneumoniae, but Not to a Soluble Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine,” has been cited 11 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
According to the retraction notice:
In Figs. 1–5, we stated that we had used IL-1R1 knockout mice (B6129 background, The Jackson Laboratory) in our experiments. Recently, using IL-1R1 knockout mice (C57BL/6 background, The Jackson Laboratory), we were unable to reproduce a critical experiment from that published paper. Upon investigation we discovered that the mice that had been ordered for the experiments described in our published article were, in fact, mistakenly mice that were doubly deficient in IL-1R1 and TNF a p55 (type 1) receptor. As a result, our data cannot be interpreted in the context of a sole deficiency in IL-1R1 signaling. Although this was a purely unintentional mistake, we need to retract this paper.
Cliff Snapper, the paper’s senior author, gave us some more details by email:
This was not Jackson’s fault. The individual conducting most of the studies had unfortunately misunderstood the designation on the descriptive sheet for these mice, and thought she was getting IL-1R1-/- mice (B6129 background) only . Each time she ordered more mice, she handed in a xerox copy of the order, so kept making the same mistake. More recently we decided to continue exploring the role of IL-1 in this model system, and this time she ordered bona-fide IL-1R1-/- mice only, on the C57BL/6 background. We now could not reproduce the main finding. She went back into her records to try and understand this major discrepancy, and only then realized her mistake. I did not mean to ascribe any fault on Jackson’s part.
It’s actually easy to see how someone would make that mistake: The two strains are listed close to one another on the same page, with all sorts of symbols, superscripts, numbers, and letters.
In another email, Snapper wrote:
Needless to say, the retraction was a painful experience, but absolutely necessary.
We know Snapper feels badly about this, and thought carefully through it, because the only reason he mentioned that this wasn’t Jackson Labs’ fault was because we had originally read the retraction notice too quickly and made assumptions. Good thing we checked it out.
Good for him. He gets high marks from Retraction Watch for transparency.
Hat tip: Tom Oates