Objective: Recent trials have indicated positive effects of bumetanide in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We tested efficacy of bumetanide on core symptom domains using a single center, parallel-group, participant-randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase-2 superiority trial in a tertiary hospital in the Netherlands.
Method: Unmedicated children aged 7 to 15 years with ASD and IQ ≥55 were block-randomized 1:1 to oral-solution bumetanide versus placebo, titrated to a maximum of 1.0 mg twice daily for 91 days (D91), followed by a 28-day wash-out period. The primary outcome was difference in Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS-2) total score at D91, analyzed by modified intention-to-treat with linear mixed models.
Results: A total of 92 participants (mean age 10.5 [SD 2.4] years) enrolled between June 2016 and December 2018. In all, 47 children were allocated to bumetanide and 45 to placebo. Two participants dropped out per treatment arm. After 91 days, bumetanide was not superior to placebo on the primary outcome, the SRS-2 (mean difference -3.16, 95% CI = -9.68 to 3.37, p = .338). A superior effect was found on one of the secondary outcomes, the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (mean difference -4.16, 95% CI = -8.06 to -0.25, p = .0375), but not on the Sensory Profile (mean difference 5.64, 95% CI = -11.30 to 22.57, p = .508) or the Aberrant Behavior Checklist Irritability Subscale (mean difference -0.65, 95% CI = -2.83 to 1.52, p = .552). No significant wash-out effect was observed. Significant adverse effects were predominantly diuretic effects (orthostatic hypotension (17 [36%] versus 5 [11%], p = .007); hypokalemia (24 [51%] versus 0 [0%], p < .0001), the occurrence of which did not statistically influence treatment outcome.
Conclusion: The trial outcome was negative in terms of no superior effect on the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes suggest efficacy on repetitive behavior symptoms for a subset of patients.
Clinical trial registration information: Bumetanide in Autism Medication and Biomarker Study (BAMBI); https://www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu/; 2014-001560-35.
Keywords: ASD; RCT; SRS; bumetanide; children.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.