Plagiarism (and plenty of it) fells Crohn’s paper

jcpcover414A group of researchers from Italy has lost their 2010 paper in the Journal of Cellular Physiology for having plagiarized — in style.

The article, “Early Years of Biological Agents Therapy in Crohn’s Disease and Risk of the Human Polyomavirus JC Reactivation,” was led by Valeria Pietropaolo, of Sapienza University in Rome and the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The paper has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The abstract, which is still available, reads:

Although the remarkable efficacy of biological therapy has resulted in significant success in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) management, susceptibility to infections remains a concern. The biological agents include the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inhibitors, for instance infliximab, and other immunomodulating agents, such as natalizumab. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare but mostly fatal opportunistic brain infection caused by reactivation of the human polyomavirus JC virus (JCV), has been found in two patients with multiple sclerosis and one patient with Crohn’s disease (CD), linked to treatment with natalizumab. After these cases of PML, the commercial and investigational use of natalizumab was suspended in February 2005 but was subsequently resumed for multiple sclerosis and for CD, only through a special restricted distribution program. This review, starting from an extensive literature search by the PubMed database, resumes the clinical aspects and pathophysiology of CD and focuses on the biologics in current use in CD (infliximab, adalimumab, and natalizumab), in order to provide a reference and gateway to prevention, recognition, and management of JCV, in the early years of biological agents therapy. It also proposed to provide an overview on the hypothetical mechanism of reactivation of JC virus related to the use of these drugs.

But the retraction notice is behind a paywall, which, unfortunately, prevents non-subscribers from seeing this:

The above article from Journal of Cellular Physiology, published online on April 16, 2010 in Wiley Online Library (, DOI: 10.1002/jcp.22146 and in Volume 224(2), pp. 316–326, has been retracted by agreement between the journal Executive Editor, Gary S. Stein and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed due to overlap between this article and the following articles which were not credited properly:


  • Ardizzone S, Bianchi Porro G. 2002. Inflammatory bowel disease: New insights into pathogenesis and treatment. J Intern Med 252:475–496. Review. PubMed PMID: 12472908.
  • Boren EJ, Cheema GS, Naguwa SM, Ansari AA, Gershwin ME. 2008. The emergence of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in rheumatic diseases. J Autoimmun 30:90–98. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2007.11.013. Review. PubMed PMID: 18191544.
  • Bosani M, Ardizzone S, Porro GB. 2009. Biologic targeting in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Biologics 3:77–97. Epub 2009 Jul 13. PubMed PMID: 19707398; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2726060.
  • Comerford LW, Bickston SJ. 2004. Treatment of luminal and fistulizing Crohn’s disease with infliximab. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 33:387–406, xi. Review. PubMed PMID: 15177545.
  • Hendrickson BA, Gokhale R, Cho JH. 2002. Clinical aspects and pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease. Clin Microbiol Rev 15:79–94. Review. PubMed PMID: 11781268; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC118061.
  • Maginnis MS, Atwood WJ. 2009. JC virus: An oncogenic virus in animals and humans? Semin Cancer Biol 19:261–269. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2009.02.013. Epub 2009 Feb 24. Review. PubMed PMID: 19505654; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2694964.
  • Major EO. 2010. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in patients on immunomodulatory therapies. Annu Rev Med 61:35–47. doi: 10.1146/ Review. PubMed PMID: 19719397.
  • Mayer L. 2010. Evolving paradigms in the pathogenesis of IBD. J Gastroenterol 45:9–16. doi: 10.1007/s00535-009-0138-3. Epub 2009 Dec 4. Review. PubMed PMID: 19960355.
  • Saketkoo LA, Espinoza LR. 2006. Impact of biologic agents on infectious diseases. Infect Dis Clin North Am 20:931–961, viii. Review. PubMed PMID: 17118297.
  • Sandborn WJ, Targan SR. 2002. Biologic therapy of inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology 122:1592–1608. Review. Erratum in: Gastroenterology 2002;123:656. PubMed PMID: 12016425.
  • Verbeeck J, Van Assche G, Ryding J, Wollants E, Rans K, Vermeire S, Pourkarim MR, Noman M, Dillner J, VanRanst M, Rutgeerts P. 2008. JC viral loads in patients with Crohn’s disease treated with immunosuppression: can we screen for elevated risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy? Gut 57:1393–1397. doi: 10.1136/gut.2007.145698. Epub 2008 Apr 24. PubMed PMID: 18436577.

In addition, content from the following publications were used and not listed under the References section

  • Blumberg RS, Strober W. 2001. Prospects for research in inflammatory bowel disease. JAMA 285: 643–647. PubMed PMID: 11176874.
  • Haroon N, Inman RD. 2009. Infectious complications of biological therapy. Curr Opin Rheumatol 21:397–403. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32832c792d. Review. PubMed PMID: 19412102.
  • Nakamura K, Honda K, Mizutani T, Akiho H, Harada N. 2006. Novel strategies for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease: Selective inhibition of cytokines and adhesion molecules. World J Gastroenterol 12:4628–4635. Review. PubMed PMID: 16937430.

This would seem to be a textbook case of “patchwork plagiarism.”

The journal’s website trumpets as “Great News!” its “Improved Impact Factor,” but we’d prefer to see instead fewer paywalls for its retraction notices.

Hat tip: Kerry Grens

5 thoughts on “Plagiarism (and plenty of it) fells Crohn’s paper”

  1. Why did the referees not catch this? To me, this sounds like someone publishing in a field not directly within their area of expertise. The references might have been left out if the authors were unaware of the previous research. Could anyone maybe confirm/refute this?

    1. Looks like a case of iterated plagiarism. The article by Bosani M, Ardizzone S, Porro GB. 2009.,
      from which the retracted paper contains unattributed text, has been retracted for the same reason:

      From the retracted 2010 paper (Bellizzi et al):
      “Microbial agents appear to be intimately involved in the
      pathogenesis of IBD. Although available data do not
      convincingly incriminate a single, persistent pathogen as a
      universal cause of IBD, this hypothesis should still be considered
      in view of the possibility that these disorders may represent
      a heterogeneous group of diseases with multiple etiologies.”

      From the retracted 2009 paper (Bosani, Ardizzone and Porro):
      “Microbial agents appear to be intimately involved in the pathogenesis of IBD. Although available data do not convincingly incriminate a single, persistent pathogen as a universal cause of IBD, this hypothesis should still be considered in view of the possibility that these disorders may represent a heterogeneous group of diseases with multiple etiologies.”

      1. Another traditional peer review that failed horribly. Proportion of responsibility: 50% = authors; 25% = editors and peers for not picking this up during “peer review”; 25% = Wiley for also not apologising to the public for not having a suitable system in place to screen for plagiarism during “peer review”. Also what is surprising is that Temple University does not seem to have sufficient training about plagiarism (in my mind most US universities would be extremely well prepared).

    2. Presumably most of the papers have been coped in a way that could not be considered appropriate even if properly referenced, for example complete paragraphs. The few that are not referenced properly might only have sentences copied which it may have been possible to include if properly referenced. They didn’t just leave the references out, they would have known that they should have been there because they would have copied from those very references.

  2. I think proper credit/ reference work is best way to avoid plagiarism. If some body use thoughts or idea of previous report it must be credited with reference to avoid this kind of situation

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