Japan group earns 4th retraction following investigation

Researchers in Japan have issued their fourth retraction, noting that the same figures were used to depict different experimental conditions.

The group lost two papers in 2015 for the same reason, following a misconduct investigation at Oita University in Japan. Last year, the same group notched another retraction, and pegged the responsibility for the problematic figures on first author Satoshi Hagiwara.

Now, the group has published a fourth retraction in the European Journal of Pharmacologythe latest notice doesn’t identify a culprit. All four retracted papers list Hagiwara as first author.

Here’s the latest retraction notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors.

An investigation by the Oita University concluded that identical images have been used to depict different experimental conditions in two other publications.

A section of Figure 1(B), labelled as a hematoxylin-eosin stain of a lung of a rat pretreated with 20 mg/kg LPS for 28 days, was also published as Figure 1C in reference 1, labelled as as a hematoxylin-eosin stain of a lung of a rat given 5 mg/kg LPS 12 hours earlier.

Figure 3(A), labelled as an azan stain of a lung of a rat pretreated with LPS for 24 days, is identical to Figure 4B in reference 2, labelled as an azan stain of a lung of a rat pretreated with LPS for 14 days.


[1] Hagiwara S, Iwasaka H, Noguchi T, (2007), Nafamostat mesilate inhibits the expression of HMGB1 in lipopolysaccharide-induced lung injury. J Anesth: 21, 164–170; DOI 10.1007/s00540-006-0468-8

[2] Hagiwara S, Iwasaka H, Matsumoto S, Noguchi T, Yoshioka H, (2007), Coexpression of HSP47 Gene and Type I and Type III Collagen Genes in LPS-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis in Rats. Lung: 185, 31–37; DOI: 10.1007/s00408-006-0085-1

The 2007 paper, “Introduction of antisense oligonucleotides to heat shock protein 47 prevents pulmonary fibrosis in lipopolysaccharide-induced pneumopathy of the rat,” has been cited 13 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

All four of the now-retracted papers have three authors in common: Hagiwara, Hideo Iwasaka, and Takayuki Noguchi

We’ve reached out to Hagiwara and Oita University for a comment, but haven’t heard back.

We’ve also contacted Elsevier — which publishes the European Journal of Pharmacology — for more information, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

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