Researchers plan to retract landmark Alzheimer’s paper containing doctored images

Charles Piller:

Authors of a landmark Alzheimer’s disease research paper published in Naturenormal in 2006 have agreed to retract the study in response to allegations of image manipulation. University of Minnesota (UMN) Twin Cities neuroscientist Karen Ashe, the paper’s senior author, acknowledged in a post on the journal discussion site PubPeer that the paper contains doctored images. The study has been cited nearly 2500 times, and would be the most cited paper ever to be retracted, according to Retraction Watch data.

“Although I had no knowledge of any image manipulations in the published paper until it was brought to my attention two years ago,” Ashe wrote on PubPeer, “it is clear that several of the figures in Lesné et al. (2006) have been manipulated … for which I as the senior and corresponding author take ultimate responsibility.”

After initially arguing the paper’s problems could be addressed with a correction, Ashe said in another post last week that all of the authors had agreed to a retraction—with the exception of its first author, UMN neuro-
scientist Sylvain Lesné, a protégé of Ashe’s who was the focus of a 2022 investigation by Sciencenormal. A Naturenormal spokesperson would not comment on the journal’s plans.

“It’s unfortunate that it has taken
2 years to make the decision to retract,” says Donna Wilcock, an Indiana University neuroscientist and editor of the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementianormal. “The evidence of manipulation was overwhelming.”