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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal of Neuroscience retracts plasticity paper for “substantial data misrepresentation”

with 6 comments

jneuroscicoverThe Journal of Neuroscience has retracted a 2012 paper by a group from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet for what appears to be research misconduct. But more on that in a moment.

The article, “The Existence of FGFR1-5-HT1A Receptor Heterocomplexes in Midbrain 5-HT Neurons of the Rat: Relevance for Neuroplasticity,” came from the lab of Kjell Fuxe, whose interests include Parkinson’s disease, addiction and depression. The first and second authors, Dasiel Oscar Borroto-Escuela and Wilber Romero-Fernandez, are listed as being post-docs in the lab.

According to the notice:

The Journal of Neuroscience has received a report describing an investigation by the Karolinska Institutet, which found substantial data misrepresentation in the article “The Existence of FGFR1-5-HT1A Receptor Heterocomplexes in Midbrain 5-HT Neurons of the Rat: Relevance for Neuroplasticity” by Dasiel O. Borroto-Escuela, Wilber Romero-Fernandez, Mileidys Pérez-Alea, Manuel Narvaez, Alexander O. Tarakanov, Giuseppa Mudó, Luigi F. Agnati, Francisco Ciruela, Natale Belluardo, and Kjell Fuxe, which appeared on pages 6295–6303 of the May 2, 2012 issue. Because the results cannot be considered reliable, the editors of The Journal are retracting the paper.

The paper has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific, including twice in other papers by the same group.

Fuxe, the last author, responded to our request for more information with the following:

All the information on the retraction can be obtained from the Society for Neuroscience. There will be no other retractions.

That first sentence wasn’t particularly heartening. Although when it comes to retraction notices something is better than nothing, we’ve seen this sort of statement from the journal before — in a case that turned out not to involve misconduct. Back then we wondered whether the journal would have better served its readers, and the authors of the retracted paper, by including a line to that effect.

We wonder the same thing now.

Update, 5:45 p.m. Eastern, 7/12/13: A commenter points out that this group had a correction in Biological Psychiatry a year ago:

Borroto-Escuela et al., authors of “Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1–5-Hydroxytryptamine 1A Heteroreceptor Complexes and Their Enhancement of Hippocampal Plasticity”, published in Biological Psychiatry (2012;71:84–91), have discovered errors in panel B of Figure 3. Specifically, the Western blot images were not inserted and labeled properly during the preparation of this figure panel. Despite the irregularities in the presentation of the figure, the authors report that there were no errors in the actual quantitation. The corrected version of Figure 3B is now provided here. The authors apologize for this error.

biol psych correction

Hat tip: Suresh Krishna

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6 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on lab ant and commented:
    sometimes I’m judging to fast but “substantial data misrepresentation” sounds VERY fishy. But while digging deeper this might not always be the case!

    pamminge

    July 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

  2. This retraction notice manages to be vague and menacing at the same time. How unpleasant for the authors.

    puzzled monkey

    July 12, 2013 at 11:39 am

  3. Reblogged this on The Firewall.

    forgottenman2013

    July 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  4. The very same authors have had an erratum recently in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 71, Issue 1, 1 January 2012, Pages 84-91:
    “Borroto-Escuela et al., authors of “Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1–5-Hydroxytryptamine 1A Heteroreceptor Complexes and Their Enhancement of Hippocampal Plasticity”, published in Biological Psychiatry (2012;71:84–91), have discovered errors in panel B of Figure 3. Specifically, the Western blot images were not inserted and labeled properly during the preparation of this figure panel. Despite the irregularities in the presentation of the figure, the authors report that there were no errors in the actual quantitation. The corrected version of Figure 3B is now provided here. The authors apologize for this error.”

    Junk Science

    July 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    • That’s interesting – because it looks like Figure 3B in the retracted JNS manuscript is at least one of the problems. And the two figures look strikingly similar.

      elledr1ver

      July 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      • Aside from the fact, that the titles of those two papers sound remarkably similar. Would be interesting to see how much novel data had actually been added to the Journal of Neuroscience paper…

        Sebastian

        July 15, 2013 at 5:30 am


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