Background: The investigation of the interactions between cells and active materials is pivotal in the emerging 3D printing-biomaterial application fields. Here, lipidomics has been used to explore the early impact of alginate (ALG) hydrogel architecture (2D films or 3D printed scaffolds) and the type of gelling agent (CaCl2 or FeCl3) on the lipid profile of human fibroblasts. Methods: 2D and 3D ALG scaffolds were prepared and characterized in terms of water content, swelling, mechanical resistance and morphology before human fibroblast seeding (8 days). Using a liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole-tandem mass spectrometry approach, selected ceramides (CER), lysophosphatidylcholines (LPC), lysophosphatidic acids (LPA) and free fatty acids (FFA) were analyzed. Results: The results showed a clear alteration in the CER expression profile depending of both the geometry and the gelling agent used to prepare the hydrogels. As for LPCs, the main parameter affecting their distribution is the scaffold architecture with a significant decrease in the relative expression levels of the species with higher chain length (C20 to C22) for 3D scaffolds compared to 2D films. In the case of FFAs and LPAs only slight differences were observed as a function of scaffold geometry or gelling agent. Conclusions: Variations in the cell membrane lipid profile were observed for 3D cell cultures compared to 2D and these data are consistent with activation processes occurring through the mutual interactions between fibroblasts and ALG support. These unknown physiologically relevant changes add insights into the discussion about the relationship between biomaterial and the variations of cell biological functions.
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