Data questions prompt retraction of PLOS ONE cardiovascular paper

plosonePLoS One has retracted a 2013 article on atherosclerosis in mice over concerns about the integrity of the data.

The paper, “The Effect of Soluble RAGE on Inhibition of Angiotensin II-Mediated Atherosclerosis in Apolipoprotein E Deficient Mice,” came from a group of researchers in South Korea.

It purported to show that:

partical (sic) blockade of RAGE activation by sRAGE prevent AngII -induced atherosclerosis. Therefore these results suggested that first, RAGE activation may be important in mediating AngII-induced atherogenesis, and second, AngII activation is a major pathway in the development of atherosclerosis. Taken together, results from this study may provide the basis for future anti- atherosclerotic drug development mediated through RAGE activation.

But according to the retraction notice:

The authors retract this publication due to concerns about several of the results reported in the article.

After the publication of the article, the authors identified an error in Figure 3A, where the representative oil red stain of the aortic sinus from angiotensin II(-) sRAGE(-) had been duplicated in the angiotensin II(+), sRAGE 2ug image. Upon a review of the data from the article, the authors also identified concerns in relation to possible duplication of data in Figure 5A (RAGE and MCP-1 panels) and Figure 6A (MCP-1 and TNF-α panels). The authors have indicated that the raw data for Figures 3, 5 and 6 are not available to allow for a full evaluation of the concerns noted.

In the light of the concerns about the integrity of the results and the lack of the raw data relevant to the figures affected, the authors and the editors retract this publication.

The paper has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientfic’s Web of Knowledge, once by a paper written by two of the now-retracted study’s co-authors.

2 thoughts on “Data questions prompt retraction of PLOS ONE cardiovascular paper”

  1. In April this year the lead author of the paper posted a comment on the PLoS site detailing an “error”, and said they were in the process of trying to correct it.

    Here’s a screen grab of the comment on the PLoS site:

    The authors claimed “our data are under review for correction upon our request and it will take some time according to the notice from PLOS ONE corrections staff”. This makes it sound like they actually tried to submit some alternative figures. Now they’ve pulled the paper, suggesting PLoS didn’t like the new figures, or maybe the authors found additional errors. It wouldn’t be the first time an author has tried to correct something and then subsequently ended up having to retract.

    1. Wow, the original manuscript was submitted April 12, 2013. The comment of the corresponding author came in less than a year later. Was the paper discussed somewhere on the net? If not, it is nice that the authors came along this way without apparent external pressure.

      But that’s not so special, what is special is that they can’t find the raw data anymore after one year! That is extremely poor science.

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