Humoral immunity provides specific adaptive immunity. Antigen-presenting cells, mainly dendritic cells and macrophages, recognize, ingest, and process foreign antigen. These antigens are presented to B cells in conjunction with class II and class I major histocompatability complex (MHC) molecules on the antigen-presenting cells. This process, which usually requires T cells, activates B cells to produce a specific immunoglobulin which opsonizes micro-organisms and activates complement, hence promoting their removal.
Cellular immunity also provides an adaptive immune response in which cytotoxic T cells are generated against target cells, usually virally infected cells, tumor cells, or allogenic graft cells. This requires helper T cells and appropriate interleukin 2 (IL-2) secretion, and allows distinction of self from non-self. Activated T cells also influence other immune cells, including macrophages, increasing their phagocytic and bacterial killing capacity.
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