Aims: We investigated VEGF expression and neovascularisation in the metaplasia-dysplasia-carcinoma sequence of Barrett's esophagus and 47 shades of adenocarcinoma.
Method: Slides of 27 cases of Barrett's metaplasia and high grade dysplasia were immunostained for VEGF, CD 31 and alpha-sm actin to discriminate between mature and immature vessels. VEGF stained slides were quantitatively evaluated measuring optical density with a computer based program. The neovascularisation coefficient was estimated with an interactive analytic computer program.
Results: The median VEGF expression increased from metaplasia to advanced carcinoma. VEGF expression and the neovascularisation coefficient reached statistical significance between Barrett's metaplasia and high grade dysplasia (p<0.001), but were not statistically different between high grade dysplasia and microinvasive carcinoma (p=0.421; p=0.146). Comparing microinvasive to advanced carcinoma the difference was significant for both parameters (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Based on a quantitative computer based evaluation program, the present study suggests, that an angiogenic switch might exist and that it is an early event in the metaplasia-dysplasia-carcinoma sequence of Barrett's carcinoma. The neovascularisation phase in Barrett's carcinoma may precede tumour growth.