INTRODUCTION: Intragastric balloons (IGBs) are a safe and effective treatment for obesity. However, limited knowledge exists on the underlying biological changes with IGB placement. METHODS: This single-institution study was part of an adjustable IGB randomized controlled trial. Subjects with obesity were randomized in a 2 is to 1 ratio to 32 weeks of IGB with diet/exercise counseling (n = 8) vs counseling alone (controls, n = 4). Diet/exercise counseling was continued for 24 weeks post-IGB removal to assess weight maintenance. We used mass spectrometry for nontargeted plasma lipidomics analysis and 16S rRNA sequencing to profile the fecal microbiome. RESULTS: Subjects with IGBs lost 15.5% of their body weight at 32 weeks vs 2.59% for controls (P < 0.05). Maintenance of a 10.5% weight loss occurred post-IGB explant. IGB placement, followed by weight maintenance, led to a -378.9 μM/L reduction in serum free fatty acids compared with pre-IGB (95% confidence interval: 612.9, -145.0). This reduction was mainly in saturated, mono, and omega-6 fatty acids when compared with pre-IGB. Polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholines also increased after IGB placement (difference of 27 μM/L; 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 52.8). Compared with controls, saturated and omega-6 free fatty acids (linoleic and arachidonic acids) were reduced after IGB placement. The fecal microbiota changed post-IGB placement and weight maintenance vs pre-IGB (P < 0.05). Further analysis showed a possible trend toward reduced Firmicutes and increased Bacteroidetes post-IGB and counseling, a change that was not conclusively different from counseling alone. DISCUSSION: IGB treatment is associated with an altered fecal microbiome profile and may have a better effect on obesity-related lipidome than counseling alone.
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