Journal takes different tacks on two cancer papers with image problems

carcinogenCarcinogenesis has the publishing world’s version of a twin problem: two dysfunctional articles yet one gets retracted while the other merely suffers a correction. Is it nature — or nurture?

Here are the details. One article, “Chemopreventive effect of dietary glutamine on colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice,” came from a group in China. Published earlier this year, the authors seem to have had some trouble with their figures. As the corrigendum explains: 

The authors regret that Figures 4B and 4C previously published in this paper contained errors. We recently found there were incorrect expressions in these figures.

The expression of incidence of adenocarcinoma in GLN group in figure 4Bwas incorrect, and it should have been indicated as 60% and not 80%. As reported in the text (page 1596), the incidence of adenocarcinoma in GLN-fed mice was clearly presented as 60% (p=0.035).

In addition, due to the mistakenly drawn figure, the indication of the number of adenocarcinoma in figure 4C was incorrect. As shown in figure 4C, the average number of adenocarcinoma in Model and GLN mice were mistakenly expressed as 5.1 and 4.1 respectively, actually there were 3.1 and 2.1 respectively (the numbers of both groups mistakenly had 2 added during the process of drawing).

For the above published paper, the authors wish to apologize and note that Figure 4B and Figure 4C should be updated as attached figures due to our errors in figure production, although these incorrect expressions do not affect the strength of results, evidence and the conclusions.

The authors wish to apologize that these errors were not identified earlier. We appreciate the contributions to this corrigendum from Dr. Susan Tripathi (CCS Associates, Inc.).

Fig. 4.

Fig. 4.

Effect of GLN-enriched diet on the tumor incidence and burden of colonic tumorigenesis. (B) Tumor incidence of UC-associated CRC in animals treated with DSS/AOM and fed with GLN-enriched diet or standard diet. (C) Multiplicity of colonic tumors in animals treated with DSS/AOM and fed with GLN-enriched diet or standard diet. Data are expressed as the means ± SD, *P< 0.05.

Now consider the treatment of “Effect of sulforaphane on metallothionein expression and induction of apoptosis in human hepatoma HepG2 cells,” a 2005 article also by scientists from China that has been cited 61 times, according to Thomson Scientific. That paper was retracted, for the following reason:

The paper has been retracted due to an error with Figures 4 and 5b reported to the Journal by the paper’s own authors. The authors apologise that during the preparation of figures for the manuscript the loading control in Figure 4 (beta actin) was inadvertently duplicated from Figure 5B during figure assembly. The authors report that the experiments were repeated and resupplied the two figures for review and a possible Corrigendum; however, the Journal was unable to verify the validity of the new figures because images of the whole gel/blot could not be supplied. To preserve scientific integrity, Carcinogenesis agreed with the authors that this paper be retracted and that a whole new manuscript reporting the new data from the repeated experiments be submitted for review by the Journal if the authors wish.

We’ll note that duplicating loading controls was among the things that got Naoki Mori into trouble.

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