Probe-based Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy (pCLE) is a powerful imaging technique that allows to perform gastrointestinal endomicroscopy at subcellular resolution. The aim of this study was to assess the use of pCLE to evaluate tumor angiogenesis in rectal and gastric cancers. A total of 35 consecutive patients with gastric and 91 with rectal carcinomas underwent endoscopy and pCLE during the same examination. Vascular assessment was based on vessel shape and size, vessel permeability and blood flow, and allowed the creation of an angiogenic score ranging from 0, for normal vasculature, to 4, for aberrant vasculature. A significant difference for the presence of vessels with large diameter and defective blood flow was found between rectal and gastric cancers. Overall, rectal cancers displayed a higher angiogenic score compared to gastric cancers. Conventional therapy induced a striking reduction in the angiogenic score only in rectal cancer patients. Taken together, our findings suggest that the pCLE technology is suitable for the evaluation of the tumor microvasculature abnormalities. Therefore, the real-time assessment of the vasculature status may represent a promising approach to predict the efficacy of the treatments and improve the clinical management of patients with gastric or rectal carcinomas.
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