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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Get the lead out: duplication leads to retraction of heavy metal paper

with 7 comments

Biological Trace Element Research has retracted a paper by a group of Egyptian authors for duplication.

The paper, “The Effect of Lead Acetate Toxicity on Experimental Male Albino Rat,” came from investigators in the department of Economic Entomology and Pesticides at Cairo University and appeared in December 2011. As the notice states:

Article has been retracted due to duplicate publication.

Here’s the abstract:

The toxic effect of Pb ion (lead acetate) was investigated using male albino rats, which was ingested at 1/20, 1/40, and 1/60 sublethal doses. Relative to normal control, the ingestion of Pb2+ induced significant stimulation in ALT and AST activity. In addition, total soluble protein and albumin contents of plasma were decreased, while the content of globulin was changed by the Pb2+ treatments. The cholinesterase activity was inhibited, but the activities of alkaline and acid phosphates as well as lactate dehydrogenase were stimulated as a result of lead acetate intoxication. These observations were gradually paralleled across the experiment dose of the three doses of intoxicated Pb2+. In the case of blood picture, Pb2+ ingestion significantly reduced the contents of hemoglobin and RBC count of intoxicated rat’s blood, while the plasma levels of T3 and T4 and blood WBC count were insignificantly decreased or unchanged. All results of the present study showed that the Pb2+ ingestion was more effective in the case of the high dose (1/20 LD50) than that of the low dose (1/60 LD50) ingestion relative to the normal healthy control. The results of the present work advice the need to avoid exposure of humans to the lead compound to avoid injurious hazard risk.

One month later (or less, probably), the Asia Pacific Journal of Biomedicine published an article with virtually the same title (the introductory “The” is missing), and by same group.

Its abstract is close, but not identical:

Objective

To evaluate the effect of different doses of lead acetate (1/20, 1/40 and 1/60 of LD50) on body weight gain, blood picture, plasma protein profile and the function of liver, kidney and thyroid gland.

Methods

Male albino rats were divided into four groups, the first group represented the health control animals, while the second, third and fourth groups were ingested orally with sub lethal doses of lead acetate (1/20, 1/40 and 1/60) of the oral LD50, respectively. One dose was ingested every two days during the experimental period (14 weeks) including the adaptation time. Blood was collected and used for all analysis.

Results

The results showed that, the ingestion of Pb2+ induced significant stimulation in glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (ALT) and glutamic-oxalacetic transaminease (AST) activity. Also, total soluble protein and albumin contents of plasma were significantly decreased, while the content of globulin was changed by the Pb2+ treatments. The cholinesterase activity was inhibited, but the activities of alkaline and acid phosphates and lactate dehydrogenase were stimulated, while plasma glucose level was elevated as a result of lead acetate intoxication. In case of blood picture, Pb2+ ingestion reduced the contents of hemoglobin and RBCs count of intoxicated rat’s blood and the plasma levels of T3, T4 and blood WBCs count were decreased.

Conclusions

It can be concluded that lead acetate has harmful effect on experimental male albino rats. Therefore, the present work advises people to prevent exposure to the lead compound to avoid injurious hazard risk.

Clearly, this represents a violation of ethical publishing practices. But shame on the editors, too, for allowing such abject butchery of the English language as the use of “advice” as a verb and the triply redundant “injurious hazard risk”!

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7 Responses

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  1. News flash! Lead acetate is toxic if swallowed. Egypt scoops the rest of the world.

    JudyH

    November 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    • This should definitely be covered by The Onion News Network. I recall their piece on research that unequivocally concluded that repeated stabbing is lethal.

      chirality

      December 1, 2012 at 6:13 am

  2. I hate to say this (not being a hater) but these abstracts are at about the same level as the average science project submitted by a ninth-grader to a science fair. Surely this work re-duplicates something done in the last hundred years by somebody. If only Beethoven had known that lead was poisonous.

    puzzled monkey

    November 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

  3. I think the scientific community should be more understanding. So, if a fellow scientist’s home country is embroiled in a revolution/war/military coup/etc., it should be OK to duplicate if it helps to to bring home the bacon. Or hummus.

    chirality

    December 1, 2012 at 5:59 am

  4. I think chirality has the best suggestion: this article should have been submitted to the Onion.

    puzzled monkey

    December 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

  5. Indeed, puzzled monkey, this must have been a science fair project. The LD50 is already known, allowing the researchers to administer doses that are various fractions of the LD50. One abstract highlights the amazing result that the higher the dose of the toxic compound the more injurious the effects on the body. Who would have predicted such a thing?! Unless there is a burning controversy in the Middle East and Asia concerning the alleged safety of lead compounds in food, and only “local” scientists are trusted, I fail to see how this research advances anyone’s knowledge. Shame on the editors for accepting such a manuscript for publication. Both papers deserve to be retracted. But if journals are so desperate for content that they will publish this kind of high school level stuff, perhaps the U.S. high schools should start sending their science fair winning entries out to journals. The list of target journals can begin with these two.

    JudyH

    December 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

  6. What puzzled me the most about this one is that all authors are entmologists; I know mice are small and are pest animals, however they are way different from insects! This is what you get from playing in distant grounds.

    CR

    June 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm


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