This type of reaction occurs when specific types of white blood cells (called T helper cells) respond to antigens and release toxic and inflammatory substances that can damage tissues. Cell-mediated immune reactions can occur in any organ. Treatment usually involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that suppress the immune system, either alone or in combination.
Granulomatous reactions are masses of fibrous connective tissue infiltrated by the white blood cells that form a cell-mediated immune response. They occur in some animals following infection with certain types of bacteria or fungi. Although cell-mediated immune responses effectively fight off these infections in most individuals, in a few animals the immune response is only partially effective and results in a mass at the site of infection.
Contact hypersensitivity results from chemicals reacting with skin proteins. These reactions modify skin proteins in such a way that they are perceived as foreign invaders. The body then produces a cell-mediated immune response against them and causes skin damage. This hypersensitivity usually occurs as a result of contact with sensitizing chemicals, including some medications and insect repellents.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Christine Andreoni; Kevin T. Schultz, DVM, PhD