NEWS | January 18, 2013

UC Davis scientist receives funding from Shriners Hospitals for Children for juvenile arthritis research


Iannis Adamopoulos, a researcher dedicated to studying diseases of the immune and skeletal systems, has received $1 million in grants from Shriners Hospitals for Children to find new treatment targets for juvenile arthritis — the most common cause of orthopaedic disability among children.

Adamopoulos is an assistant professor of rheumatology, allergy and clinical immunology at UC Davis and principal investigator for the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine, a research collaboration of the UC Davis School of Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. He will use the funding to define the role of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) in juvenile arthritis.

Adamopoulos © UC Regents
Iannis Adamopoulos

“We have preliminary evidence that LTB4 is found in inflamed joint tissue and stimulates bone destruction through the activation of specialized bone-destroying cells,” said Adamopoulos, who has been investigating inflammatory arthritis for several years. “We think that LTB4 could potentially be a critical factor in juvenile arthritis.”

The funding will also support the research of Hong Qiu, an expert in leukotriene biochemistry and researcher in the Adamopoulos lab, who will test the potential of leukotriene inhibitors in treating juvenile arthritis.

“Collectively, our studies will provide a detailed understanding of the pathogenetic mechanisms of LTB4 and will foster new therapeutic strategies for juvenile arthritis with improved outcomes,” Adamopoulos said.

Juvenile arthritis and related disorders are estimated to affect nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. It causes episodes of joint stiffness and pain that can be accompanied by rashes and fevers at the onset. If experienced long term, the disease can permanently affect a child’s mobility, internal organs and eyesight. Current treatments are only partially effective, highlighting the critical need for new therapies that specifically address arthritis in children.

“We are very proud to include Dr. Adamopoulos among our investigators,” said David Pleasure, director of research at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California and a UC Davis professor of neurology and pediatrics. “He is a leader in the rapidly evolving field of osteoimmunology, which focuses on the interactions of bone formation, bone destruction and the immune system. His work illuminates the role of immune attack in juvenile arthritis and points the way toward novel therapies for this disorder.”

Adamopoulos is known for discovering that the abnormal expression of an immune system cytokine known as interleukin 23 (IL-23) causes severe bone loss in mice. He has since confirmed that finding in human cells and is currently testing the potential of IL-23 inhibitors as a treatment for adult arthritis. His groundbreaking work led to his recognition in 2011 as an Arthritis National Research Foundation Scholar and Sontag Foundation Fellow.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit

Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California is a regional pediatric medical center devoted to transforming the lives of children through treatment, teaching and research. The hospital provides comprehensive and compassionate care to children with orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, cleft lip and scars from any cause. Admission to the program is based on age and diagnosis. For more information, visit

The Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine, a joint initiative of Shriners and UC Davis, conducts basic and translational stem cell research to help children with spinal cord dysfunction, orthopaedic disorders and burns.