by Frank Ervolino, ND for American Biosciences
The dietary supplements that we take and prescribe can only be useful if they are absorbed.  Without the proper absorption, these supplements are simply digested and turned to waste.  This is why it is extremely important that we understand how our bodies absorb most nutrients to maximize the beneficial effects of the supplements we use and how a group of ovoid nodules that line the gut, called Peyer’s patches, work in this process.
As a quick review, Peyer’s patches are an important part of the gastrointestinal immune system. In function and appearance, they have much in common with lymph nodes. They most commonly appear as thickened patches of lymphatic tissue in the mucous membrane of the lowest portion of the small intestine. They harbor a heavy concentration of white blood cells in order to combat harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract.
Like the lymph nodes, Peyer’s patches are collections of lymphatic follicles which produce lymph, a clear liquid containing a high concentration of white blood cells. They aid in the production of antibodies and help keep the gastrointestinal system free of harmful pathogens. This is especially important in the lower reaches of the small intestine, which is exposed to a wide variety of potentially harmful bacteria from both the stomach and the large intestine.
The Peyer’s patches work to distinguish “harmful” vs “non-harmful” as food passes through the gastrointestinal tract.  Antigens in the food are presented to the tissue and Peyer’s patches determine how they should be classified.  In addition to recognizing antigens and triggering the appropriate response, Peyer’s patches can also learn to identify new antigens, storing this information for future reference to make the immune system more effective.
Although Peyer’s patches play a very important role in immune response, they also play a lesser-known, but equally important role in the absorption of certain dietary supplements we take and prescribe, especially those used for immune response.  As we already know, without the proper absorption of our supplements, the nutrients they contain are simply digested, giving little value to us and our patients.
Research has shown that dietary supplements made from yeast and bacteria cell wall,  glucans from mushrooms and other sources act on the immune system via presentation of Peyer’s patch follicles.    These follicles, located in the lower intestine of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), grab hold of samples of bacteria, constituents of digested food, and other matter that transit the gastrointestinal tract,  in order to provide the immune system with information on the type of pathological threats facing the organism.1  The body responds to the compounds presented via Peyer’s patches by modifying, or modulating immune response.
When possible, choose supplements, especially immune supplements, that are micro-encapsulated with layers to protect the active material from degradation caused by the high acid environment of the stomach, and layers of micro-encapsulation materials which adhere to Peyer’s patches, slowing their transit through the lower GI tract, and enhancing their presentation to the immune system.

  • Peyer’s patches are the largest component of the body’s immune system.
  • They are instrumental in modulating “harmful” versus “non-harmful” for the overall immune system through antigen recognition.
  • They regulate gut permeability and nutrient absorption.
  • Peyer’s patches assist in detoxifying the body by using their absorption ability to direct toxins back to the lymph system for removal.
  • They modulate the immune system through TLR and NOD receptor sites which regulate innate and adaptive immune responses.

[1] Int J Inflam. 2010; Peyer’s Patches: The Immune Sensors of the Intestine – Camille Jung, Jean-Pierre Hugot, Frédérick Barreau

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.