Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

If only more retractions could be like this: Authors of cardiac stem cell paper show the way

with 6 comments

Researchers at Qingdao University have fully retracted a paper originally published in Molecular Medicine Reports with a clear, detailed outline of what went wrong and how they discovered the error.

Here’s the notice for “Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells using skin fibroblasts from patients with myocardial infarction under feeder-free conditions:”

After the publication of the article, the authors decided they wished to retract their manuscript for the following reasons. We wish to retract our research article entitled ‘Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells using skin fibroblasts from patients with myocardial infarction under feeder-free conditions’ published on the Molecular Medicine Reports 9: 837-842, 2014. In this article, we generated human iPSCs from skin fibroblasts from myocardial infarction patients in feeder-independent conditions. However, in subsequent researches, all of the cells generated and believed to be iPSCs showed negative expression of the pluripotent markers, Nanog and Rex1, and the cell surface marker, SSEA-1 and SSEA-4. Therefore we think the established iPS cells might not be real pluripotent stem cells. Based on the above mentioned, we ascertained that there must have some serious disadvantages in our design of experiment fundamentally. As a result, all authors involved unanimously agreed to retract this article and redesign our experiment. We deeply apologize to the readers for any inconvenience caused by this retraction. [the original article was published in the Molecular Medicine Reports 9: 837-842, 2014 DOI: 10.3892/mmr.2014.1885]

Here’s the abstract for the paper, which has never been cited, according to Google Scholar:

Myocardial infarction (MI) is an increasing medical problem; however, its pathogenesis has yet to be elucidated and more effective treatment strategies are required. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were recently successfully generated using human somatic cells transfected with four transcription factors. The present study aimed to generate iPSCs from cells from patients with myocardial infarction. Six patients who had been diagnosed with myocardial infarction were enrolled in this study. The fibroblast cells from the biopsied skin were reprogrammed using octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct‑4), SRY-related HMG-box gene 2 (Sox‑2), Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf‑4) and cellular myelocytomatosis oncogene (c‑Myc) transcription factors. The generated cells were identified by karyotyping, in vitro and in vivo differentiation ability and staining for specific markers. These human MI‑iPSCs expressed pluripotent genes and cell surface markers, and exhibited normal proliferation. The iPSCs also showed in vivo and in vitro differentiation ability, as indicated by teratoma and embryoid body formation, respectively. Moreover, the iPSCs differentiated into cardiomyocytes and neuronal cells. In conclusion, human iPSCs were successfully generated from skin fibroblasts from patients with MI under feeder‑independent conditions, which increases their potential suitability for clinical applications. These results may encourage further study of MI pathogenesis and facilitate the development of safe downstream clinical applications of iPSC‑based cell therapies.

Comments
  • ad July 9, 2014 at 9:56 am

    It is clear. It would be clearer if it was grammatically correct too!

    • Ross Stalker July 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

      I think you mean: “if it *were* grammatically correct”. Your statement is past subjunctive, not past indicative.

  • AI July 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

    According to the abstract of the retracted paper “These human MI‑iPSCs expressed pluripotent genes and cell surface markers, and exhibited normal proliferation.” Nanog and SSEA expression are the most common markers used for stem cells for which these cells were found to be negative later on. It raises the question as to how these cells were considered to be iPSC in the first place or which markers were they looking at earlier? How did it pass the reviewers considering the high level of skepticism in the stem cell field?

    • tekija July 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Hard to tell, full text is either no more accessible or paywalled (needs registration to find out)

      • JATdS July 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm

        I couldn’t disagree more. This retraction note is unclear, fuzzy and badly written leading to multiple interpretations. Why did Spandidos Publications* not improve the clarity of that retraction note? “we ascertained that there must have some serious disadvantages in our design of experiment fundamentally” What does that even mean? Also, “However, in subsequent researches, all of the cells generated and believed to be iPSCs showed negative expression of the pluripotent markers”. Does this refer to research conducted after initial trials or after the paper had been published? It seems incredible that an error was detected AFTER the research was published, which means that they rushed to publish it (i.e. results were green and premature), or indeed the experimental design or materials were flawed. I would like to know how many times their experiment had been repeated and I would be curious about the stats and sample sizes, too. This sort of reminds me of Obokata claiming strongly to the Japanese media back in March how she had personally seen STAP cells more than 200 times with her own eyes. Clearly some people are myopic in the world of stem cell research.

        * http://www.spandidos-publications.com/

    • Ron July 28, 2014 at 8:06 am

      It is even more confusing that the authors tested for a POSITIVE SSEA1 staining as human pluripotent cells are negative for this marker.

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.