Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Penkowa Journal of Physiology Expression of Concern turns into a retraction

with 6 comments

We’ve been trying to follow the complicated case of Milena Penkowa, who resigned her post at the University of Copenhagen in December amidst allegations that she had committed scientific misconduct and misused grant money. Today, we learned that one of the three papers that Penkowa had coauthored and were subject to Expressions of Concern has been retracted. Here’s the notice:

Retraction:of ‘Exercise induces interleukin-8 expression in human skeletal muscle’, by Thorbjorn CA Akerstrom, Adam Steensberg, Pernille Keller, Charlotte Keller, Milena Penkowa and Bente Klarlund Pedersen, published in The Journal of Physiology 563(2): 507-516. Akerstrom T, Steensberg A, Keller P, Keller C, Penkowa M, Pedersen BK.

Source

The University of Copenhagen.

Text of Retraction:

The following article from The Journal of Physiology, ‘Exercise induces interleukin-8 expression in human skeletal muscle’, by Thorbjorn CA Akerstrom, Adam Steensberg, Pernille Keller, Charlotte Keller, Milena Penkowa and Bente Klarlund Pedersen, published in The Journal of Physiology 563(2): 507-516, and online ahead of print on 23 December 2004 (doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2004.077610), has been retracted by agreement between Thorbjorn CA Akerstrom, Adam Steensberg, Pernille Keller, Charlotte Keller, Bente Klarlund Pedersen, the Editor- in-Chief, David J. Paterson, and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The retraction has been agreed because:
•    Figure 2.A (pre exercise) and Figure 2.G (24-h time-point) represent the same tissue sample but the sections presented have been moved slightly and the level of colouring of the tissue section modified;
•    Figure 2.A is identical to Figure 3.D in the article ‘Interleukin-6 receptor expression in contracting human skeletal muscle: regulating role of IL-6’ by Keller P, Penkowa M, Keller C, Steensberg A, Fischer CP, Giralt M, Hidalgo J, Pedersen BK, FASEB Journal 19(9):1181-3.

We apologize to The Journal of Physiology for the inconvenience. We hold The Journal of Physiology in high regard and assure you these errors were not intentional or of deceptive intent. We further apologize to our colleagues for any difficulties caused by the publication of this paper.

The paper has been cited 54 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The notice is refreshingly detailed, and gives a clear sense of what was done wrong. We can also report that one of Penkowa’s co-authors, Bente Klarlund Pedersen, has resigned from her post on the editorial board of the journal. That fact was reported weeks ago in a Danish newspaper, but the paper referred to her resignation from two journals — the Journal of Physiology, where this retraction appears,  and Experimental Physiology. The journals are linked, but we have only heard confirmation of her resignation from the latter’s publisher.

Hat tip: Virginia Hughes

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 22nd, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Comments
  • dk June 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Fig 3F in Exp Physiol 2005; 90:477 and Fig 1H in FASEB J 2003; 17:2166 seem to represent the same tissue sample.
    http://blog.m3.com/Retraction/20110623/Additional_Findings

  • Bill June 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I would say that the errors(?) being not intentional or of deceptive intent is debatable, although of course Milena herself has not signed off the retraction…

    • Marco June 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      The media here reports Klarlund Pedersen has notified the Danish Council for Scientific Dishonesty about the contributions of Penkowa to these papers.

  • Conrad T Seitz MD June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Maybe not deceptive “intent” but certainly deceptive results. I can’t see the figures but surely the first “error” (pre- and 24 hr post exercise tissue samples are the same tissue sample) is deceptive on the face of it. The second “error” (identical figures in two papers, one referring to interleukin 8 expression and the other referring to interleukin 6 expression) has the same deceptive prima facie appearance. Surely. Penkowa (if she’s responsible for this) has a lot of explaining to do.

  • Conrad T Seitz MD June 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    So…does exercise induce interleukin 8 expression in skeletal muscle–or not? And does this have anything to do with chronic fatigue “syndrome”? Just asking.

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