What Are Peyer’s Patches?
Peyer’s patches are small, round, raised bumps on the skin. They appear in various locations throughout the body and they may even be present at birth. These bumps vary from being no larger than a speck of dust to large enough to cover your hand or arm. The bumps do not have any known cause yet there is some evidence suggesting that they might be caused by bacteria living on the surface of our bodies. There are several theories on how these tiny bumps could affect us, but so far no one has been able to prove anything. Some believe that they are just parasites that live off of our dead skin cells. Others think that they may be immune system cells called T lymphocytes (T = Thymus; Lymphocyte = white blood cell). Still others think that they might be bacterial infections like strep throat or other types of bacteria. But the most likely theory is that they are caused by bacteria living on the surface of our bodies.
The term “peyer” comes from the French word “peyrère”, which means patch. The patches themselves are usually described as having a light brown color, although their appearance can range from dark brown to black depending on where they occur. They tend to grow in size over time and their number varies between individuals.
No one is quite sure what these brown colored bumps are, but the leading theory is that they are caused by bacteria that lives on our skin.
The main function of Peyer’s patches seems to be related to the body’s immune system. When they occur in the intestines, they seem to help with absorbing nutrients. When the patches appear on other parts of the body, their main purpose seems to be defense against harmful foreign invaders such as bacteria and cancer.
This immune system response has not yet been fully researched or understood. It is also unknown why they only seem to occur in specific locations on the body. The reason why they occur in these specific locations might be because the bacteria that causes them to grow in these areas can only live in these areas.
There are many different types of Peyer’s patches that can develop in different parts of the body. In the intestines, Peyer’s patches are called “Peyer’s Patches of the small intestine” or “Peyer’s Patches of the large intestine”. They can also appear in other parts of the body such as the lungs, liver, spleen, and skin.
Their exact purpose is unknown.
What Are Peyers Patches?
Diseases caused by Peyers Patches
There are several diseases that can be caused by peyers patches. The most common are dysentery and tuberculosis. In some cases, the patches can become infected by parasites such as tapeworms or roundworms.
The patches themselves do not actually cause any symptoms and are not visible to the naked eye unless part of an ulcer or wound. When ulcers or wounds do occur from the patches, they can appear as small red bumps resembling pimples. In some cases, ulcers or wounds caused by the patches can be quite severe. However, even in these extreme cases, the patches themselves are not visible and will only be found if a biopsy is taken.
Dysentery is an infection of the intestines that causes severe diarrhea containing blood and mucous. This condition is often caused by the bacterium shigella.
Tuberculosis is a disease that primarily attacks the lungs, although it can also affect other organs in the body such as the brain and kidneys. It is caused by a family of bacteria called mycobacterium.
Even though peyers patches are not particularly large or visible, they can occasionally harbor serious diseases. Some diseases that can be caused by them include dysentery and tuberculosis.
Peyer’s Patches Diagnosis
There is not an easy way to diagnose Peyers Patches as they do not have any specific symptoms nor are they visible to the naked eye. They can only be diagnosed by inducing an endoscopy or colonoscopy. For this procedure, a long tube is inserted into the rectum.
A biopsy can then be taken of any suspicious tissue.
How Peyers Patches are treated
There is no specific treatment for Peyers patches, although the ulcers or wounds that they can cause can be treated with antibiotics or other drugs depending on the underlying disease.
Peyer’s patches themselves do not cause any specific symptoms and most of the time go unnoticed.
Patients do not normally feel any pain from them.
Peyer’s patches only become dangerous when they form ulcers or wounds. When this happens, the underlying disease can be contagious if the patient has a compromised immune system (as is often the case with HIV). These wounds need to be taken seriously and a call should be made to a physician immediately.
Patients who have Peyer’s patches do not need treatment for the patches themselves.
Peyer’s patches can be treated with antibiotics if the ulcers or wounds become infected.
The most important factor when managing a patient with Peyer’s patches is their general health. If the patient is immunocompromised then they are at a higher risk of getting an infection from the wound caused by the patch. For this reason, it is important that the patient maintain good hygiene and avoid situations that may compromise their immune system.
Peyer’s patches are benign growths that can be found throughout the small intestine. They contain masses of lymphocytes.
Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are small clusters of epithelial cells that can be found in the colon and rectum. These growths are believed to be precancerous, and can sometimes progress into cancer.
Aberrant Crypt Foci Diagnosis
Most patients will not experience any symptoms related to the ACF. Rarely patients may experience bleeding from the rectum or a feeling of bowel movements wanting to come out.
Before undergoing any testing to determine if the patient has ACF, it is important that all symptoms be discussed with a physician.
The most common and easiest test to run is a colonoscopy, however in some cases an abdominal x-ray or a double-contrast barium enema may be ordered instead. Of these, a colonoscopy will provide the most information. During a colonoscopy, the physician will be able to see any abnormalities in the rectum and colon and perform a biopsy if necessary.
Aberrant Crypt Foci Treatment
Treatment for ACF depends on many factors including patient age, the number of ACF detected, and what type of cells are found in the lesions. It is important that all screenings be completed before treatment begins.
If the patient is found to have only a few ACF, and none of the cells are mutated, then no treatment may be necessary. The lesions may disappear over time or they may persist, recurring screenings may be necessary.
Screening should take place every three months for the first year, then once a year for the next three years, and finally once every three to five years if no further ACF pop up.
If the patient has many ACF, or if the cells are mutated, then treatment will be recommended. This may include dietary changes to alter the microbiome, medications to destroy the cells, or in rare cases surgery.
It is important for patients with ACF to stick to their treatment plan so that the lesion does not turn into cancer.
Adenomas are small clusters of epithelial cells in the colon and rectum. They can be either benign or malignant.
Patients with adenomas do not experience any symptoms, unless the lesions hemorrhage or ulcerate. If this occurs, the patient may experience rectal bleeding or a feeling that the patient needs to have a bowel movement.
After a physical exam to check for any rectal bleeding, a physician may order an abdominal x-ray or a double-contrast barium enema to examine the patient’s colon and rectum. From here, the physician should be able to see the lesions and take a biopsy if necessary.
Treatment of adenomas is based on the number of lesions found and whether or not the lesions are benign or malignant. If there are only a few adenomas and they are benign, then no treatment may be necessary. The patient should continue to undergo screenings to ensure that no new lesions appear.
If the adenomas are malignant or if there are many of them, treatment will be recommended. Again, this may include dietary changes to alter the patient’s microbiome, medications to slow down cell growth, or in rare cases surgery to remove the lesions.
It is important for patients with adenomas to stick to their treatment plan so that the adenomas do not become cancerous.
Adenocarcinomas are a type of cancer that starts in glandular tissue within the colon. These lesions are found in 15% of all colorectal cancer diagnoses.
Adenocarcinomas may not cause any symptoms until the disease progresses to an advanced stage. Signs and symptoms can include rectal bleeding, a feeling that one needs to have a bowel movement, or a lump near the rectum.
A physician will run tests such as an abdominal x-ray, colonoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, or a computed tomography (CT) scan to examine the patient’s colon and rectum. At this point, the physician should be able to see the lesion and take a biopsy if necessary.
Treatment of adenocarcinomas is similar to treatment for any cancer. The goal is to destroy or remove as much of the cancer as possible while doing minimal damage to nearby healthy tissue.
Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Adenomas and adenocarcinomas are two of the most common cancers that affect the colon and rectum. They can be detected early by a regular screening. Remember, you should get a colonoscopy once every ten years after the age of 50.
If you or someone you know has not yet scheduled a colonoscopy, make an appointment today. While the procedure is routine and safe, it can save your life. If you have questions about the procedure, speak to your physician or ask a family member.
Together, you can overcome the fear and anxiety surrounding the procedure. Your life may depend on it!
Guest Post by:
Kaitlyn Nolly is a nursing student and freelance writer from New York. Kaitlyn is passionate about writing about health and wellness — particularly in the areas of digestive disorders, mental health, women’s issues, and parenting. When she isn’t writing or studying, you’ll find her enjoying nature with her young daughter.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Number, size, and distribution of Peyer’s patches in the human small intestine: Part I The development of Peyer’s patches by JS Cornes – Gut, 1965 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
PEYER’S PATCHES: AN ENRICHED SOURCE OF PRECURSORS FOR IGA-PRODUCING IMMUNOCYTES IN THE RABBIT by SW Craig, JJ Cebra – The Journal of experimental medicine, 1971 – rupress.org
Epithelial cell specialization within human Peyer’s patches: an ultrastructural study of intestinal lymphoid follicles by RL Owen, AL Jones – Gastroenterology, 1974 – Elsevier
Chemokine requirements for B cell entry to lymph nodes and Peyer’s patches by T Okada, VN Ngo, EH Ekland, R Förster… – The Journal of …, 2002 – rupress.org
Salmonella typhimurium initiates murine infection by penetrating and destroying the specialized epithelial M cells of the Peyer’s patches. by BD Jones, N Ghori, S Falkow – The Journal of experimental medicine, 1994 – rupress.org