Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the main causes of disability in children and young adults, as well as a significant concern for elderly individuals. Depending on the severity, TBI can have a long-term impact on the quality of life for survivors of all ages. The primary brain injury can result in severe disability or fatality, and secondary brain damage can increase the complexities in cellular, inflammatory, neurochemical, and metabolic changes in the brain, which can last decades post-injury. Thus, survival from a TBI is often accompanied by lifelong disabilities. Despite the significant morbidity, mortality, and economic loss, there are still no effective treatment options demonstrating an improved outcome in a large multi-center Phase III trial, which can be partially attributed to poor target engagement of delivered therapeutics. Thus, there is a significant unmet need to develop more effective delivery strategies to overcome the biological barriers that would otherwise inhibit transport of materials into the brain to prevent the secondary long-term damage associated with TBI. The complex pathology of TBI involving the blood-brain barrier (BBB) has limited the development of effective therapeutics and diagnostics. Therefore, it is of great importance to develop novel strategies to target the BBB. The leaky BBB caused by a TBI may provide opportunities for therapeutic delivery via nanoparticles (NP). The focus of this review is to provide a survey of NP-based strategies employed in preclinical models of TBI and to provide insights for improved NP based diagnostic or treatment approaches. Both passive and active delivery of various NPs for TBI are discussed. Finally, potential therapeutic targets where improved NP-mediated delivery could increase target engagement are identified with the overall goal of providing insight into open opportunities for NP researchers to begin research in TBI.
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