The American Heart Association, which publishes a number of journals, has issued an Expression of Concern about five papers in three of their publications, following allegations of image manipulation. All of the papers include Hiroaki Matsubara, of Kyoto Prefectural University, as a co-author.
The notice begins:
It has come to the attention of the American Heart Association (AHA), in a public manner, that there are questions concerning a number of figures in several AHA journals’ articles…
The “public manner” was three posts last year on the Abnormal Science blog, available here, here and here, alleging that images were manipulated in the manuscripts, and that histology slides were reused.
The notice continues:
After reviewing these concerns, we have asked the institution, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, to investigate the allegations. Until we learn the outcome, we feel it is best to post this Expression of Concern to alert our readers that concerns about these articles have been raised.
The five papers under scrutiny:
- “Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor Inhibits Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Transactivation by Increasing Association of SHP-1 Tyrosine Phosphatase,” published in Hypertension in 2001 and cited 30 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge
- “Enhancement of Ischemia-Induced Angiogenesis by eNOS Overexpression,” published in Hypertension in 2003 and cited 64 times
- “Angiogenesis by Implantation of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and Platelets Into Ischemic Limbs,” published in Circulation in 2002 and cited 167 times
- “Aldosterone Directly Induces Myocyte Apoptosis Through Calcineurin-Dependent Pathways,” published in Circulation in 2004 and cited 57 times
- “Angiotensin AT1 and AT2 Receptors Differentially Regulate Angiopoietin-2 Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression and Angiogenesis by Modulating Heparin Binding–Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF)–Mediated EGF Receptor Transactivation,” published in Circulation Research in 2001 and cited 143 times
Matsubara is a big name in cardiology, having been part of the KYOTO HEART study and other clinical trials. Twenty one of his papers have been cited at least 100 times, with one cited more than 800.
Much of the work in question appears to have been performed when Matsubara was at Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan. He left there in 2003 for his post in Kyoto.
We’ve contacted Matsurbara for comment, as well as Martha Cathcart, chair of the AHA’s publishing committee, who signed the Expression of Concern, and will update with anything we learn.
Due to a mistake of duplicating the publication of original data which already appeared in Circulation Research (84: 1073–1084, 1999), the following paper published in Molecular Cellular Biochemistry has been retracted with an apology…
The original Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry paper was published in 2001, and retracted in 2003.
Update, 11:45 a.m. Eastern, 3/31/12: Kyoto Prefectural University tells us:
We have already set up an investigation committee, and currently investigation is underway.
Hat tip: Marilyn Mann