The search for brain-permeant NKCC1 inhibitors for the treatment of seizures: Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling of NKCC1 inhibition by azosemide, torasemide, and bumetanide in mouse brain.
Because of its potent inhibitory effect on the Na+-K+-2Cl- symporter isotype 1 (NKCC1) in brain neurons, bumetanide has been tested with varying results for treatment of seizures that potentially evolve as a consequence of abnormal NKCC1 activity. However, because of its physicochemical properties, bumetanide only poorly penetrates into the brain. We previously demonstrated that NKCC1 can be also inhibited by azosemide and torasemide, which lack the carboxyl group of bumetanide and thus should be better brain-permeable. Here we studied the brain distribution kinetics of azosemide and torasemide in comparison with bumetanide in mice and used pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling to determine whether the drugs reach NKCC1-inhibitory brain concentrations. All three drugs hardly distributed into the brain, which seemed to be the result of probenecid-sensitive efflux transport at the blood-brain barrier. When fractions unbound in plasma and brain were determined by equilibrium dialysis, only about 6-17% of the brain drug concentration were freely available. With the systemic doses (10 mg/kg i.v.) used, free brain concentrations of bumetanide and torasemide were in the NKCC1-inhibitory concentration range, while levels of azosemide were slightly below this range. However, all three drugs exhibited free plasma levels that would be sufficient to block NKCC1 at the apical membrane of brain capillary endothelial cells. These data suggest that azosemide and torasemide are interesting alternatives to bumetanide for treatment of seizures involving abnormal NKCC1 functionality, particularly because of their longer duration of action and their lower diuretic potency, which is an advantage in patients with seizures.