Hydrolytic biotransformation of the bumetanide ester prodrug DIMAEB to bumetanide by esterases in neonatal human and rat serum and neonatal rat brain : a new treatment strategy for neonatal seizures?
OBJECTIVES: The loop diuretic bumetanide has been proposed previously as an adjunct treatment for neonatal seizures because bumetanide is thought to potentiate the action of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic drugs such as phenobarbital by preventing abnormal intracellular accumulation of chloride and the subsequent "GABA shift." However, a clinical trial in neonates failed to demonstrate such a synergistic effect of bumetanide, most likely because this drug only poorly penetrates into the brain. This prompted us to develop lipophilic prodrugs of bumetanide, such as the N,N-dimethylaminoethyl ester of bumetanide (DIMAEB), which rapidly enter the brain where they are hydrolyzed by esterases to the parent compound, as demonstrated previously by us in adult rodents. However, it is not known whether esterase activity in neonates is sufficient to hydrolyze ester prodrugs such as DIMAEB. METHODS:In the present study, we examined whether esterases in neonatal serum of healthy term infants are capable of hydrolyzing DIMAEB to bumetanide and whether this activity is different from the serum of adults. Furthermore, to extrapolate the findings to brain tissue, we performed experiments with brain tissue and serum of neonatal and adult rats. RESULTS: Serum from 1- to 2-day-old infants was capable of hydrolyzing DIMAEB to bumetanide at a rate similar to that of serum from adult individuals. Similarly, serum and brain tissue of neonatal rats rapidly hydrolyzed DIMAEB to bumetanide. SIGNIFICANCE: These data provide a prerequisite for further evaluating the potential of bumetanide prodrugs as add-on therapy to phenobarbital and other antiseizure drugs as a new strategy for improving pharmacotherapy of neonatal seizures.