The authors of a 2008 study purporting to explain how the herbicide atrazine acts on cancer cells have asked the journal that published it to retract it for “inadvertent errors,” Retraction Watch has learned.
The notice for “G-Protein-Coupled Receptor 30 and Estrogen Receptor-a are Involved in the Proliferative Effects Induced by Atrazine in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” published in Environmental Health Perspectives, will read:
The Authors discovered that inadvertent errors occurred in sorting the files related to the presentation of the Western blots in Figures 6 and 8 and requested that their paper be retracted. The authors stand by the soundness of the study, and have advised the Editor of their intention to submit an amended manuscript, which incorporates appropriate changes, for consideration for publication in a future issue of the Journal. The Authors apologize for any inconvenience caused.
The original study concluded:
Our results indicate a novel mechanism through which atrazine may exert relevant biological effects in cancer cells. On the basis of the present data, atrazine should be included among the environmental contaminants potentially able to signal via GPR30 in eliciting estrogenic action.
The paper has been cited 47 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The state of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment also refers to it.
It was apparently the pseudonymous Clare Francis — the person who some editors claim wastes their time — who called the troublesome images to the journal’s attention. We’ve asked corresponding author Marcello Maggiolini for comment, and will update with anything we learn.
Update, 11:30 a.m. Eastern: Maggiolini tells us that no other papers will be affected. PubPeer commenters have raised questions about four other papers.