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Cell-mediated immunity is an immune response that does not involve antibodies, but rather involves the activation of phagocytes, antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and the release of various cytokines in response to an antigen.
Historically, the immune system was separated into two branches: humoral immunity, for which the protective function of immunization could be found in the humor (cell-free bodily fluid or serum) and cellular immunity, for which the protective function of immunization was associated with cells. CD4 cells or helper T cells provide protection against different pathogens. Naive T cells, mature T cells that have yet to encounter an antigen, are converted into activated effector T cells after encountering antigen-presenting cells (APCs). These APCs, such as macrophages, dendritic cells, and B cells in some circumstances, load antigenic peptides onto the MHC of the cell, in turn presenting the peptide to receptors on T cells. The most important of these APCs are highly specialized dendritic cells; conceivably operating solely to ingest and present antigens. 
Activated Effector T cells can be placed into three functioning classes, detecting peptide antigens originating from various types of pathogen: The first class being Cytotoxic T cells, which kill infected target cells by apoptosis without using cytokines, the second class being TH1 cells, which primarily function to activate macrophages, and the third class being TH2 cells, which primarily function to stimulate B cells into producing antibodies.
Cellular immunity protects the body through:
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.