Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal retracts two papers by Japanese cardiologist under investigation

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matsubaraThe Circulation Journal, the official organ of the Japanese Circulation Society, is retracting two papers by Hiroaki Matsubara, lead researcher on the Kyoto Heart Study, for unreliable findings. Matsubara’s institution, Kyoto Prefectural University, confirmed to us last March that it was investigating the prominent cardiologist.

The work of Matsubara came into question last year when the American Heart Association issued an expression of concern for five papers the society published in its journals. Larry Husten, at Forbes/CardioBrief, reports today that the two retracted articles were “Effects of Valsartan on Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality in High-Risk Hypertensive Patients With New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus: Sub-Analysis of the KYOTO HEART Study,” published in September 2012; and “Enhanced cardiovascular protective effects of valsartan in high-risk hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy: Sub-analysis of the KYOTO HEART study,” which appeared in March 2011.

The retraction notice for the most recent paper states:

The editorial team of Circulation Journal has recently confirmed that the manuscript written by Shinzo Kimura et al, Circ J 2012 September 12 [Epub ahead of print] and that by Jun Shiraishi et al, published in the April 2011 issue of the Circulation Journal (Circ J 2011; 75: 806 – 814) contain a number of serious errors in data analysis.

Shinzo Kimura, Takahisa Sawada, Jun Shiraishi, Hiroyuki Yamada, Hiroaki Matsubara; for the KYOTO HEART Study Group. Effects of valsartan on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in high-risk hypertensive patients with new-onset diabetes mellitus: Sub-analysis of the KYOTO HEART Study. Circ J 2012 September 12 [Epub ahead of print].

Jun Shiraishi, Takahisa Sawada, Shinzo Kimura, Hiroyuki Yamada, Hiroaki Matsubara; for the KYOTO
HEART Study Group. Enhanced cardiovascular protective effects of valsartan in high-risk hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy: Sub-analysis of the KYOTO HEART study. Circ J 2011; 75: 806 – 814.

Therefore, we have decided to retract the papers from Circulation Journal.

As the Editor-in-Chief, I regret the time that peer reviewers and others spent evaluating these papers.
I sincerely hope and trust that there will be no repetition of this kind in the future.

The statement is signed by Hiroaki Shimokawa.

Neither of the studies has been cited yet, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The Kyoto Heart Study was a randomized controlled trial looking at the effectiveness of a drug called valsartan for the treatment of high blood pressure.

According to Husten:

NYU’s Sripal Bangalore, who was a co-author of an editorial on the Kyoto Heart Study when it was initially published, said the new developments may raise questions about the main finding of the Kyoto Heart Study:

“This may be just the tip of the iceberg. We need to know more details about whether it was a ‘data analysis’ error or fradulent [sic] data. Nevertheless, it does cast a serious doubt on the main results also—which if you remember was a significant benefit for Valsartan that was not explained by blood pressure and the curves started separating within 3 months. However, this is conjecture at this point.”

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