Côté, Hélène

Portrait photo of Hélène Côté


Côté, Hélène

BSc (Laval University ), PhD (University of British Columbia)

Basic Info

Academic Rank:



Centre for Blood Research, Women’s Health Research Institute


UBC Hospital, Room G136

Short Bio

Dr. Cote’s research concentrates on the mitochondrial toxicity of drugs, primarily antiretroviral drugs used in HIV therapy. HIV combination therapy has significantly decreased mortality in the HIV infected population. However, treatment is life-long and as HIV infected individuals survive longer, the toxicity of the drugs and the serious side effects associated can cause of morbidity, non-adherence to prescribed therapy and mortality. HIV drugs can increase mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion/mutation/deletion through pressure on polymerase gamma, the enzyme responsible for mtDNA replication. In addition, some HIV drugs can inhibit telomerase, the enzyme complex elongating telomeric DNA. MtDNA damage and telomere shortening have been associated with diseases and aging.


Academic Backgrounds

  • BSc, Biochemistry, Laval University. 1987
  • PhD, Biochemistry, University of British Columbia. 1993
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Biochemistry, University of British Columbia. 1994
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Biochemistry, University of Washington. 1995-1998
  • Research Associate II, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. 1998-2004
  • Research Scholar B.C. Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR)/St.Paul’s Hospital Foundation Joint Scholarship. 1999-2003
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. 2004-2009
  • CIHR New Investigator. 2007-2012

Awards & Recognition

Selected Publications

  • Srinivasa S, Fitch KV, Petrow E, Burdo TH, Williams KC, Lo J, Cote HCF, Grinspoon SK. Soluble CD163 is assoiated with shortened telomere length in HIV-infected patients. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2014 Sep 5. [Epub ahead of print].
  • 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. Cognitive and language outcomes in HIV-uninfected infants exposed to combined antiretroviral therapy in utero and through extended breast-feeding. AIDS. 2014 Jul;28 Suppl 3:S323-30.
  • Zanet DL, Thorne A, Singer J, Maan E, Sattha A Le Campion, Soudeyns H, B, Pick N, Murray M, Money DM, Côté HCF for the CIHR Emerging Team in HIV Therapy and Aging: CARMA. Association between short leukocyte telomere length and HIV infection in a cohort study: No evidence of a relationship with antiretroviral therapy. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 May;58(9):1322-32 (SA).
  • Kalyan S, Huebbe P, Esatbeyoglu T, Niklowitz P, Côté HC, Rimbach G, Kabelitz D. Nitrogen-bisphosphonate therapy is linked to compromised coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E status in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr;99(4):1307-13. (CA).
  • Giesbrecht CJ, Thornton AE, Hall-Patch C, Maan EJ, Cote HCF, Money DM, Murray M, Pick N, and the CIHR team in HIV therapy and Aging. Select neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected women: Associations with HIV plasma viral load, hepatitis C virus, and depression, but not leukocyte telomere length. PLoS One 2014 Mar; 9(3):e89556 (CA).
  • MacDonald HM, Chu J, Nettlefold L, Maan EJ, Forbes JC, Cote HCF, Alimenti A, and the CIHR Emerging Team Grant on HIV Therapy and Aging (CARMA). Bone geometry and strength are adapted to muscle force in perinatally HIV-infected children and adolescents. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2013 Mar;13(1):53-65. (CA).
  • Wagner TA, Lin CH, Tobin NH, Côté HC, Sloan DD, Jerome KR, Frenkel LM. Quantification of mitochondrial toxicity in HIV-infected individuals by quantitative PCR compared to flow cytometry. Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2013 Jan;84(1):55-8.
  • Zanet, D, Saberi S, Oliveira L, Sattha B, Gadawski I, Côté HCF. Blood telomere length measurement by qPCR: assay considerations. PLoS ONE 2013;8(2):e57787.
  • Stringer HAJ, Sohi GK, Maguire JA, Cote HCF. Decreased Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial DNA in Patients with Statin–Induced Myopathy. J Neurol Sci. Jan 10 doi:pii: S0022-510X(12)00648-X. 10.1016/j.jns.2012.12.023. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Imam T, Jitratkosol MH, Soudeyns H, Sattha B, Gadawski I, Maan E, Forbes JC, Alimenti A, Lapointe N, Lamarre V, Money DM, Côté HC; the CIHR Emerging Team Grant on HIV Therapy and Aging: CARMA. Leukocyte Telomere Length in HIV-Infected Pregnant Women Treated With Antiretroviral Drugs During Pregnancy and Their Uninfected Infants. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2012 Aug 15;60(5):495-502.

Current Openings & Opportunities

Currently recruiting Graduate Students.

Current Projects In My Lab include

  • Mitochondrial and telomere toxicity in HIV pregnant women and infants born to HIV-infected mothers. (Leader of 5-year $2.5 million CIHR team grant: Cellular aging and HIV comorbidities in women and children)
  • Mitochondrial and telomere toxicity in HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections.
  • Development of quantitative assays to measure mitochondrial DNA alterations.
  • Statin-induced mitochondrial toxicity
  • Inherited and acquired mitochondrial disease


I am recruiting graduate students. If interested, please send a letter of interest, CV, transcripts, and English proficiency test (GRE, TOEFL) scores if applicable to helene.cote@ubc.ca.


  • HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy and aging
  • Drug mitochondrial toxicity
  • Markers of biological aging
  • Blood Research
  • Infectious Diseases

My research concentrates on the mitochondrial and telomere toxicity of drugs, primarily antiretroviral drugs used in HIV therapy. The use of combination antiretroviral 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 effects of chronic HIV infection and the toxicity of antiretroviral drugs can be associated with significant co-morbidities. In addition, HIV antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy prevents mother-to-child HIV transmission but the long-term effects of in utero exposure to HIV and antiretroviral agents remain incompletely understood.

HIV infection can cause chronic immune activation and inflammation that can affect cellular aging, while antiretroviral drugs can lead to oxidative stress, affect mitochondrial and telomeric DNA through a variety of potential mechanisms. As mitochondrial dysfunction and telomere shortening are markers of cellular aging, our research aims to better understand how viral infections and antiretroviral medications may affect aging processes in HIV-infected and affected populations, particularly women and children.

My translational research includes both basic and clinical studies, among them a large cohort study of HIV-infected and uninfected adults (and pregnant women) and children, including HIV-exposed uninfected children: the CARMA cohort.

Infectious Diseases