--- - |2- Downregulation of miR‐488 promotes odontoblastic differentiation of human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) by targeting mitogen‐activated protein kinases 1 (MAPK1) through the p38 MAPK signaling pathway, paving the basis for further study about hDPSCs. Human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) are primarily derived from the pulp tissues of permanent third molar teeth. They were widely used in human bone tissue engineering. It was previously indicated that microRNA (miR) expressions are closely associated with hDPSCs development. However, the specific effect of miR‐488 on hDPSCs still remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to investigate effects of miR‐488 on the differentiation of hDPSCs into odontoblast cells through the p38 mitogen‐activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling pathway by binding to MAPK1. The hDPSCs were isolated and cultured in vitro. Dual‐luciferase reporter gene assay was performed to test the relationship between MAPK1 (p38) and miR‐488. Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis were used to detect the mRNA and protein expressions of p38 MAPK signaling pathway‐related genes (MAPK1, Ras, and Mitogen‐activated protein kinase kinase 3/6 [MKK3/6]), along with expressions of dentin Sialophosphoprotein (DSPP), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and osteonectin (OCN). ALP staining and alizarin red staining were conducted to detect ALP activity and degree of mineralization. Initially, we found that MAPK1 was the target gene of miR‐488. Besides, downregulation of miR‐488 was observed to stimulate the p38 MAPK signaling pathway and to increase the messenger RNA and protein expressions of DSPP, ALP, and OCN. Furthermore, ALP activity and formation of a mineralized nodule in hDPSCs were enhanced upon downregulation of miR‐488. The aforementioned findings provided evidence supporting that downregulation of miR‐488 promotes odontoblastic differentiation of hDPSCs through the p38 MAPK signaling pathway by targeting MAPK1, paving the basis for further study about hDPSCs. - 'Journal of Cellular Physiology, Volume 234, Issue 2, Page 1442-1451, February 2019. '