Hélène Côté

Contact Information
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
University of British Columbia
UBC Hospital
#G227, 2211 Wesbrook Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 2B5
Tel +1-604 822 9777
Fax +1-604 822 7635
E-mail helene.cote@ubc.ca

Current Positions

  • Associate Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Medicine
  • Associate member, Women’s Health Research Institute

Research Interests

  • My research concentrates on the mitochondrial toxicity of drugs, primarily antiretroviral drugs used in HIV therapy. The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (triple therapy) has significantly decreased mortality in the HIV infected population. However, HIV therapy is not a cure and treatment is life-long. As HIV infected individuals survive longer, the toxicity of the drugs and the serious side effects they cause are becoming a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, not to mention a cause of non-adherence to prescribed therapy.The drugs can cause mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion through inhibition of the mtDNA replication by the mitochondrial polymerase gamma, as well as mtDNA damage through mutation/deletion. Recently, drug-induced changes in mitochondrial gene expression have also been observed. All these can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in various tissues and a myriad of toxicity symptoms including lipoatrophy, peripheral neuropathy, hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis, liver failure, renal failure, pancreatitis, wasting, fatigue, some of which can be fatal.Some antiretroviral drugs can also inhibit telomerase, the enzyme complex that elongates telomeric DNA. The effect of antiretroviral drug exposure during early fetal development, childhood and adulthood on telomere length is also a topic of interest in my lab.
  • Current projects in my lab include:1) Antiretroviral mitochondrial toxicity and telomere attrition in infants born to HIV-infected mothers.2) Antiretroviral mitochondrial toxicity and telomere attrition in HIV-infected adults and children, as well as during pregnancy.These two projects study the toxicity of the drug in pregnant HIV infected women and their infants, two populations who are particularly vulnerable to drug-related toxicity. The longitudinal effect of HIV therapy on mtDNA quantity and telomere length in mother and child and the potential effect on mtDNA quality in the children are being investigated.3) Mitochondrial toxicity in HIV/hepatitis C virus co-infection antiviral therapy. The HIV/HCV coinfected population is also at higher risk of drug-related adverse events as liver damage cause by both viruses and the drugs add up. We are studying the effect of antiviral drugs on the liver mitochondria in patients undergoing HCV therapy, as well as the effect of therapy on drug metabolism by the liver.
  • Other lab interests:1) Mitochondrial toxicity of non-HIV drugs such as statins2) Acquired mitochondrial disease-like syndromes

Selected Publications

  1. Leukocyte telomere length at birth and during the early life of HIV-exposed uninfected children following in utero exposure to antiretrovirals.
    Ajaykumar A, Soudeyns H, Kakkar F, Brophy J, Bitnun A, Alimenti A, Albert AYK, Money DM, Côté HCF; CIHR Team in Cellular Aging and HIV Comorbidities in Women and Children (CARMA); CIHR Team in Cellular Aging and HIV Comorbidities in Women and Children (CARMA).J Infect Dis. 2017 Dec 8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix618.
  2. Lower mitochondrial DNA and altered mitochondrial fuel metabolism in HIV-exposed uninfected infants in Cameroon.
    Jao J, Powis KM, Kirmse B, Yu C, Epie F, Nshom E, Abrams EJ, Sperling RS, Leroith D, Geffner ME, Kurland IJ, Côté HCF.
    AIDS. 2017 Nov 28;31(18):2475-2481. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001647.
  3. Rapid Decrease in Peripheral Blood Mononucleated Cell Telomere Length After HIV Seroconversion, but Not HCV Seroconversion.
    Gonzalez-Serna A, Ajaykumar A, Gadawski I, Muñoz-Fernández MA, Hayashi K, Harrigan PR, Côté HCF.
    J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2017 Sep 1;76(1):e29-e32. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001446. No abstract available.
  4. Competing Factors Link to Bone Health in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation Takes a Toll.
    Kalyan S, Patel MS, Kingwell E, Côté HCF, Liu D, Prior JC. Sci Rep. 2017 Jun 13;7(1):3432. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-03685-x.
  5. Childhood Personality, Betrayal Trauma, and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Adulthood: A Lifespan Perspective on Conscientiousness and Betrayal Traumas as Predictors of a Biomarker of Cellular Aging. Edmonds GW, Hampson SE, Côté HC, Hill PL, Klest B.
    Eur J Pers. 2016 Sep-Oct;30(5):426-437. doi: 10.1002/per.2051. Epub 2016 Oct 16.
  6. Optimization of a Relative Telomere Length Assay by Monochromatic Multiplex Real-Time Quantitative PCR on the LightCycler 480: Sources of Variability and Quality Control Considerations. Hsieh AYY, Saberi S, Ajaykumar A, Hukezalie K, Gadawski I, Sattha B, Côté HCF.
    J Mol Diagn. 2016 May;18(3):425-437. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2016.01.004. Epub 2016 Mar 8.
  7. Endocrine abnormalities in HIV-infected women are associated with peak viral load – the Children and Women: AntiRetrovirals and Markers of Aging (CARMA) Cohort.Sokalski KM, Chu J, Mai AY, Qiu AQ, Albert AY, Zanet DL, Côté HC, Maan EJ, Pick N, Prior JC, Money DM, Murray MC; CIHR team grant on HIV therapy and aging: CARMA. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2016 Mar;84(3):452-62. doi: 10.1111/cen.12881. Epub 2015 Oct 20.
  8. Evidence of Subclinical mtDNA Alterations in HIV-Infected Pregnant Women Receiving Combination Antiretroviral Therapy Compared to HIV-Negative Pregnant Women. Money DM, Wagner EC, Maan EJ, Chaworth-Musters T, Gadawski I, van Schalkwyk JE, Forbes JC, Burdge DR, Albert AY, Lohn Z, Côté HC; Oak Tree Clinic Research Group.PLoS One. 2015 Aug 6;10(8):e0135041. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135041. eCollection 2015.
  9. Childhood Conscientiousness and Leukocyte Telomere Length 40 Years Later in Adult Women–Preliminary Findings of a Prospective Association.
    Edmonds GW, Côté HC, Hampson SE.PLoS One. 2015 Jul 28;10(7):e0134077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134077. eCollection 2015.
  10. Survival of effector CD8+ T cells during influenza infection is dependent on autophagy. Schlie K, Westerback A, DeVorkin L, Hughson LR, Brandon JM, MacPherson S, Gadawski I, Townsend KN, Poon VI, Elrick MA, Côté HC, Abraham N, Wherry EJ, Mizushima N, Lum JJ.J Immunol. 2015 May 1;194(9):4277-86. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1402571. Epub 2015 Apr 1.
  11. Impaired NLRP3 inflammasome activity during fetal development regulates IL-1β production in human monocytes.
    Sharma AA, Jen R, Kan B, Sharma A, Marchant E, Tang A, Gadawski I, Senger C, Skoll A, Turvey SE, Sly LM, Côté HC, Lavoie PM.
    Eur J Immunol. 2015 Jan;45(1):238-49. doi: 10.1002/eji.201444707. Epub 2014 Nov 17.
  12. Soluble CD163 is associated with shortened telomere length in HIV-infected patients. Srinivasa S, Fitch KV, Petrow E, Burdo TH, Williams KC, Lo J, Cȏté HCF, Grinspoon SK. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Dec 1;67(4):414-418. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000329.
  13. Cognitive and language outcomes in HIV-uninfected infants exposed to combined antiretroviral therapy in utero and through extended breast-feeding.
    Ngoma MS, Hunter JA, Harper JA, Church PT, Mumba S, Chandwe M, Côté HC, Albert AY, Smith ML, Selemani C, Sandstrom PA, Bandenduck L, Ndlovu U, Khan S, Roa L, Silverman MS.AIDS. 2014 Jul;28 Suppl 3:S323-30. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000357.
  14. Select neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected women: associations with HIV viral load, hepatitis C virus, and depression, but not leukocyte telomere length.Giesbrecht CJ, Thornton AE, Hall-Patch C, Maan EJ, Côté HC, Money DM, Murray M, Pick N.
    PLoS One. 2014 Mar 4;9(3):e89556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089556. eCollection 2014.
  15. Association between short leukocyte telomere length and HIV infection in a cohort study: No evidence of a relationship with antiretroviral therapy.
    Zanet DL, Thorne A, Singer J, Maan EJ, Sattha B, Le Campion A, Soudeyns H, Pick N, Murray M, Money DM, Côté HC; CIHR Emerging Team Grant on HIV Therapy and Aging: CARMA.Clin Infect Dis. 2014 May;58(9):1322-32. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu051. Epub 2014 Jan 22.
  16. Nitrogen-bisphosphonate therapy is linked to compromised coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E status in postmenopausal women.
    Kalyan S, Huebbe P, Esatbeyoglu T, Niklowitz P, Côté HC, Rimbach G, Kabelitz D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr;99(4):1307-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3648. Epub 2014 Jan 13.
  17. Blood and dried blood spot telomere length measurement by qPCR: assay considerations.
    Zanet DL, Saberi S, Oliveira L, Sattha B, Gadawski I, Côté HC. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57787. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057787. Epub 2013 Feb 25.
  18. Decreased skeletal muscle mitochondrial DNA in patients with statin-induced myopathy. Stringer HA, Sohi GK, Maguire JA, Côté HC.
    J Neurol Sci. 2013 Feb 15;325(1-2):142-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2012.12.023. Epub 2013 Jan 11.
  19. In vitro and ex vivo inhibition of human telomerase by anti-HIV nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) but not by non-NRTIs.
    Hukezalie KR, Thumati NR, Côté HC, Wong JM. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e47505. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047505. Epub 2012 Nov 15.
  20. Quantification of mitochondrial toxicity in HIV-infected individuals by quantitative PCR compared to flow cytometry.
    Wagner TA, Lin CH, Tobin NH, Côté HC, Sloan DD, Jerome KR, Frenkel LM.
    Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2013 Jan-Feb;84(1):55-8. doi: 10.1002/cyto.b.21045. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


  • Postdoctoral, University of Washington, 1998
  • Postdoctoral, University of British Columbia, 1994
  • Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 1993
  • B.Sc., Laval University, 1987