Using a new class of intracellular 2nd messengers to prevent stricture formation after caustic ingestion, sphingosylphosphorylcholine (SPC) has a wide spectrum of activity in cell growth regulation and signal transduction. Caustic esophageal burns were created with 15% NaOH in an experimental rat model. Control group animals (n=10) had esophageal burns with no treatment, whereas the SPC group (n=10) had esophageal burns gavaged with SPC for 7 days. Efficacy of treatment was assessed in 28 days by contrast esophagograms, histopathologic evaluation, and biochemically by tissue hydroxyproline (OHP) content. Contrast esophagograms demonstrated that SPC significantly prevented stricture formation. Obvious collagen deposition was present in submucosa, muscularis mucosa, and muscular layers in the control group compared with the SPC group. The damage to the esophageal wall on histopathologic examination was significantly lower in the SPC group (p<0.05). Tissue OHP contents were significantly lower in the SPC-treated group (3.0+/-0.1 mug/mg) compared with the control group (4.3+/-0.2 mug/mg) (p<0.05). We conclude that SPC improves healing following caustic esophageal burns. Furthermore, SPC is effective in preventing caustic esophageal strictures. These effects of SPC occur through its proliferative and specifically its remodeling effects on wound healing.