Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are emerging as an attractive approach for restorative medicine in central nervous system (CNS) diseases and injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), due to their relatively easy derivation and therapeutic effect following transplantation. However, the long-term survival of the grafted cells and therapeutic efficacy need improvement. Here, we review the recent application of MSCs in TBI treatment in preclinical models. We discuss the genetic modification approaches designed to enhance the therapeutic potency of MSCs for TBI treatment by improving their survival after transplantation, enhancing their homing abilities and overexpressing neuroprotective and neuroregenerative factors. We highlight the latest preclinical studies that have used genetically modified MSCs for TBI treatment. The recent developments in MSCs’ biology and potential TBI therapeutic targets may sufficiently improve the genetic modification strategies for MSCs, potentially bringing effective MSC-based therapies for TBI treatment in humans.
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