“Sufficient concern” about data prompts retraction of T-cell paper

journal of immunology 8 15The Journal of Immunology has retracted a 2011 paper on T cell activity after the authors decided they couldn’t stand by the reliability of the work.

The article was titled “Human Regulatory T Cells Require IL-35 To Mediate Suppression and Infectious Tolerance.” (On Pubmed the title has the rather ironic precursor “Cutting edge” in front). Here’s the abstract:

Human regulatory T cells (T(reg)) are essential for the maintenance of immune tolerance. However, the mechanisms they use to mediate suppression remain controversial. Although IL-35 has been shown to play an important role in T(reg)-mediated suppression in mice, recent studies have questioned its relevance in human T(reg). In this study, we show that human T(reg) express and require IL-35 for maximal suppressive capacity. Substantial upregulation of EBI3 and IL12A, but not IL10 and TGFB, was observed in activated human T(reg) compared with conventional T cells (T(conv)). Contact-independent T(reg)-mediated suppression was IL-35 dependent and did not require IL-10 or TGF-β. Lastly, human T(reg)-mediated suppression led to the conversion of the suppressed T(conv) into iTr35 cells, an IL-35-induced T(reg) population, in an IL-35-dependent manner. Thus, IL-35 contributes to human T(reg)-mediated suppression, and its conversion of suppressed target T(conv) into IL-35-induced T(reg) may contribute to infectious tolerance.

The group is from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn. As the notice explains:

We wish to retract the article titled “Human Regulatory T Cells Require IL-35 To Mediate Suppression and Infectious Tolerance” by Vandana Chaturvedi, Lauren W. Collison, Clifford S. Guy, Creg J. Workman, and Dario A. A. Vignali, The Journal of Immunology, 2011, 186: 6661–6666.

A recent review by our research team found the approaches used by the first author, Vandana Chaturvedi, to calculate data in several suppression assays (Fig. 3C–E) to be flawed. The authors feel there is sufficient concern over these data in the article that retraction is warranted. All the authors concur with this retraction and sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

The paper has been cited 36 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We reached Chaturvedi by phone, but she declined to speak with us, saying simply that she

was not interested in this paper at the moment.

The work was funded by two NIH grants, as well as an Individual National Research Service award and the National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center Support CORE grant. And NovoNordisk helped out with a “sponsored research agreement.”

We have tried to contact the last author, Dario Vignali, and will update this post if we learn more.

Meanwhile,  Chaturvedi has at least three other papers with the St. Jude’s group in the Journal of Immunology, as well as a handful of others in Nature Immunology and Molecular Immunology.

One thought on ““Sufficient concern” about data prompts retraction of T-cell paper”

  1. I think it is very honorable to retract a paper by the responsible senior and other authors, obviously immediately after some mistakes came up to their attention and were confirmed, although it would have been better, of course, to avoid such mistakes in the first place. In many other cases, authors tend to not to take the responsibility to correct their mistakes.

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