Classical macrophage activation is inhibited by the CD200 receptor (CD200R). Here, we show that CD200R expression was specifically induced on human in vitro polarized macrophages of the alternatively activated M2a subtype, generated by incubation with IL-4 or IL-13. In mice, peritoneal M2 macrophages, elicited during infection with the parasites Taenia crassiceps or Trypanosoma brucei brucei, expressed increased CD200R levels compared to those derived from uninfected mice. However, in vitrostimulation of mouse peritoneal macrophages and T. crassiceps infection in IL-4–/– and IL-4R–/– mice showed that, in contrast to humans, induction of CD200R in mice was not IL-4 or IL-13 dependent. Our data identify CD200R as a suitable marker for alternatively activated macrophages in humans and corroborate observations of distinct species- and/or site-specific mechanisms regulating macrophage polarization in mouse and man.

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