Explain the difference between cell mediated and humoral immunity

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Immune system is divided into two classes: cell-mediated immunity and humoral (or antibody-mediatd) immunity.
 
Humoral immunity is so named because it is associated with macromolecules that are dissolved in bodily fluids (also known as humor). Humoral immunity involves B-cells (or B lymphocytes) produced in our bone marrow. In the case of humoral immunity, the antigen (present in our body) is bound to B-lymphocytes (with the help of B cell receptors). In humoral immunity, antibodies (specific to the antigen) are produced by the plasma cells. The B-cells used in humoral immunity produce memory cells, that enable future immunity against the same antigen.

Cell-mediated immunity involves T-cells, which are a type of lymphocytes (type of white blood cells found in our blood). In the case of cell-mediated immunity, the cells containing antigen are identified and attached to T-lymphocytes (with the help of T-cell receptors). In cell-mediated immunity, cells containing the antigens are destroyed by cytotoxic T-cells.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the difference between cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity? Give an example of each.

Our Immune system shows different types of responses depending upon the infection or disease.

In Cell-mediated immunity, as the name suggests the immune system of the body makes use of certain cells like Natural Killer (NK) cells, Phagocytes (by a process called as Phagocytosis) and more specifically the T-cells or T Lymphocytes, to fight against foreign particles. In such an immunity response, specific body cells identify foreign bodies and whole of the foreign body is engulfed or destroyed. Alternatively chemical substances are produced that fight against the pathogens. A subclass of T cells, then, bears a memory of this encounter, which is very helpful when the body meets the same pathogen again. This is in fact the basis of vaccination.

In Humoral ("Humoral" means body fluids like plasma, lymph) immunity, however, the body cells do not combat the infection directly as in the cell-mediated type. Instead certain cells like B cells or B Lymphocytes (which are in turn activated by T cells) produce antibodies in response to the foreign antigens. The antibodies then bind to these antigens, destroy them and thus prevent our body from infections.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on