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Cell-mediated immune response

Cell-mediated immunity is an immune response that does not involve antibodies but rather involves the activation of macrophages and natural killer cells, the production of antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and the release of various cytokines in response to an antigen. These mechanisms are described below.

Cell-mediated immunity is directed primarily at microbes that survive in phagocytes and microbes that infect non-phagocytic cells. It is most effective in removing virus-infected cells, but also participates in defending against fungi, protozoans, cancers, and intracellular bacteria. It also plays a major role in transplant rejection.

MechanismOverview
Macrophages
Natural Killer Cells
These destroy intracellular pathogens.
T-LymphocytesActivation of antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes allows them to lyse body cells, displaying epitopes of foreign antigens on their surface. This is particularly useful for virus-infected cells, cells with intracellular bacteria and cancer cells with tumor antigens.
CytokinesStimulating cells to secrete a variety of cytokines allows them to influence the function of other cells involved in adaptive and innate immune responses.
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