Plagiarism spells demise of complementary medicine paper
The Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine (JEBCAM) has retracted a 2013 review on probiotics by an author from Turkey who patched the paper together from a variety of other sources — and then appears to have reused his own work elsewhere without attribution.
The article was written by Öner Özdemir, a pediatric allergy specialist at İstanbul Medeniyet University. According to the abstract:
The increased prevalence of atopic/autoimmune diseases is nowadays defined as an endemic. Recent epidemiologic data showed that children with allergic/autoimmune disease have a different intestinal flora from healthy ones. Therefore, regulation of intestinal microflora composition by probiotics offers the possibility to influence the development of autoimmune/atopic diseases. And probiotics have been reported as capable preventive and therapeutic strategy in allergic/autoimmune diseases. The aim is to summarize/evaluate the available knowledge of probiotic use from randomized/nonrandomized controlled clinical trials, apart from reviews and meta-analyses. Those clinical trials involving studies of atopic/autoimmune disease indicated that not all patients receiving the probiotic agent benefited. But subsets of these patients, such as those with IgE-associated eczema and ulcerative colitis, seemed to have benefited the most. There is inadequate but quite promising evidence in the literature to recommend the addition of probiotics to foods. Nonetheless, probiotics still cannot be generally recommended for prevention/treatment of allergic/autoimmune diseases.
Here’s the notice:
“Preventative and Therapeutic Role of Probiotics in Various Allergic and Autoimmune Disorders: An Up-to-Date Literature Review of Essential Experimental and Clinical Data,” by Öner Özdemir, Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, April 2013 (18:2), doi:10.1177/2156587212461279.
This article has been retracted due to unattributed overlap with material from other sources and due to duplicate publication.
The unattributed excerpts in the article were taken from the following sources:
Ouwehand AC. Antiallergic effects of probiotics. J Nutr. 2007;137(3 suppl 2):794S–797S.
Saavedra JM. Use of probiotics in pediatrics: rationale, mechanisms of action, and practical aspects. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007;22:351–365. doi:10.1177/0115426507022003351.
Rook GA, Brunet LR. Microbes, immunoregulation, and the gut. Gut. 2005;54:317–320. doi:10.1136/gut.2004.053785.
Michail S. The role of probiotics in allergic diseases. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2009;5:5. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-5-5.
The author also published the following works that include significant unattributed excerpts from the article:
Özdemir Ö, Erol AY. Preventative and therapeutic probiotic use in allergic skin conditions: experimental and clinical findings. BioMed Res Int. 2013;2013:932391. doi:10.1155/2013/932391.
Özdemir Ö. The role of probiotics in atopic dermatitis prevention and therapy. In: Esparza-Gordillo J, Dekio I, eds. Atopic Dermatitis: Disease Etiology and Clinical Management. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech; 2012:353–386. doi:10.5772/25301.
The notice is unusual in that it is a bit forward-thinking, that is, it points to other problematic papers that relied on the paper being retracted.
We also found nearly identical wording in the retracted article and this paper by Özdemir. Look for the line: “There is inadequate but quite promising evidence in the literature to recommend the addition of probiotics to foods.”
Development of the child’s immune system tends to be directed toward a T-helper 2 (Th2) phenotype in infants. To prevent development of childhood allergic/atopic diseases, immature Th2-dominant neonatal responses must undergo environment-driven maturation via microbial contact in the early postnatal period. Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are found more commonly in the composition of the intestinal flora of nonallergic children. Epidemiological data also showed that atopic children have a different intestinal flora from healthy children. Probiotics are ingested live health-promoting microbes that can modify intestinal microbial populations in a way that benefits the host; and enhanced presence of probiotic bacteria in the intestinal microbiota is found to correlate with protection against atopy. There is insufficient but very promising evidence to recommend the addition of probiotics to foods for prevention and treatment of allergic diseases, especially atopic dermatitis. Clinical improvement especially in allergic rhinitis and IgE-sensitized (atopic) eczema has been reported too. Literature data for food allergy/hypersensitivity and asthma are not adequate for this guaranteed conclusion; however, clinical benefit of probiotic therapy depends on numerous factors, such as type of bacterium, dosing regimen, delivery method, and other underlying host factors, e.g., the age and diet of the host. The selection of the most beneficial probiotic strain, the dose, and the timing of supplementation still need to be determined. Accordingly, probiotics can not be recommended generally for primary prevention of atopic disease; and if probiotics are used in atopic infants/children for any reason, such as therapy or prevention, cautionary approach ought to be taken.
Not sure how all this escaped the notice of plagiarism detection software. We emailed the journal to find out but haven’t heard back.
Update, 7:15 p.m. Eastern, 6/6/14: A commenter points out that one of the papers mentioned in the notice has also been retracted.