Actinomyces israelii

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Actinomyces israelii
Scanning electron micrograph of Actinomyces israelii
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Actinomycetota
Class: Actinomycetia
Order: Actinomycetales
Family: Actinomycetaceae
Genus: Actinomyces
A. israelii
Binomial name
Actinomyces israelii
(Kruse 1896) Lachner-Sandoval 1898 (Approved Lists 1980)
Type strain
ATCC 12102[1]
CCUG 18307
CIP 103259
DSM 43320
JCM 12964
NCTC 12972
  • "Streptothrix israeli" Kruse 1896
  • "Actinobacterium israeli" (Kruse 1896) Sampietro 1908

Actinomyces israelii is a species of Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria within the genus Actinomyces. Known to live commensally on and within humans, A. israelii is an opportunistic pathogen and a cause of actinomycosis. Many physiologically diverse strains of the species are known to exist, though not all are strict anaerobes.[2] It was named after the German surgeon James Adolf Israel (1848–1926), who studied the organism for the first time in 1878.[3]


Image of a Gram-stained specimen, revealed the presence of Gram-positive, Actinomyces israelii

Actinomycosis is most frequently caused by A. israelii.[4] It is a normal colonizer of the vagina,[5] colon, and mouth.[6] Infection is established first by a breach of the mucosal barrier during various procedures (dental, gastrointestinal), aspiration, or pathologies such as diverticulitis.[7] The chronic phase of this disease is also known as the "classic phase" because the acute, early phase is often missed by health care providers. This is characterized by slow, contiguous growth that ignores tissue planes and forms a sinus tract that can spontaneously heal and recur, leading to a densely fibrotic lesion. This lesion is often characterized as "wooden".[8] Sulfur granules form in a central purulence surrounded by neutrophils. This conglomeration of organisms is virtually diagnostic of A. israelii.[9]


A. israelii is curable and can be treated with antibiotics. Both a sodium hypochlorite solution and calcium hydroxide can be highly effective in killing A. israelii when it has caused infection in the mouth.[10]


  1. Euzéby JP, Parte AC. "Actinomyces israelii". List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN). Archived from the original on May 22, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  2. Levinson, W. Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. 2010:McGraw Hill.
  3. Olender, Alina (2013). "The cause of Actinomyces canalictulis". Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine. 20: 742–744.
  4. Wade, William G.; Könönen, Eija (2015-04-01). "Actinomyces and Related Organisms in Human Infections". Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 28 (2): 419–442. doi:10.1128/CMR.00100-14. ISSN 0893-8512. PMC 4402957. PMID 25788515.
  5. Hoffman, Barbara (2012). Williams gynecology, 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. p. 65. ISBN 978-0071716727.
  6. "Actinomycosis: Causes, types, symptoms, and diagnosis". Medical News Today. 25 September 2018. Archived from the original on 2019-07-04. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  7. Valour, Florent (5 July 2014). "Actinomycosis: etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and management". Infection and Drug Resistance. 7: 183–197. doi:10.2147/IDR.S39601. PMC 4094581. PMID 25045274.
  8. Russo, Thomas A. (2014), Kasper, Dennis; Fauci, Anthony; Hauser, Stephen; Longo, Dan (eds.), "Actinomycosis and Whipple's Disease", Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (19 ed.), McGraw-Hill Education, archived from the original on 2019-07-04, retrieved 2019-07-04
  9. Ferry, Tristan; Valour, Florent; Karsenty, Judith; Breton, Pierre; Gleizal, Arnaud; Braun, Evelyne; Chidiac, Christian; Ader, Florence; Senechal, Agathe; Dupieux, Celine; Lustig, Sebastien; Boussel, Loic; Laurent, Frederic (2014). "Actinomycosis: etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and management". Infection and Drug Resistance. 7: 183–197. doi:10.2147/IDR.S39601. PMC 4094581. PMID 25045274.
  10. Barnard, D.; Davies, J.; Figdor, D. (1996–1999). "Susceptibility of Actinomyces israelii to antibiotics, sodium hypochlorite and calcium hydroxide". International Endodontic Journal. 29 (5): 320–326. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2591.1996.tb01392.x. ISSN 0143-2885. PMID 9206415.

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