Abstract: Mucosal surfaces represent the main sites in which environmental microorganisms and antigens interact with the host. Sentinel cells, including epithelial cells, lumenal macrophages, and intraepithelial dendritic cells, continuously sense the environment and coordinate defenses for the protection of mucosal tissues. The mucosal epithelial cells are crucial actors in coordinating defenses. They sense the outside world and respond to environmental signals by releasing chemokines and cytokines that recruit inflammatory and immune cells to control potential infectious agents and to attract cells able to trigger immune responses. Among immune cells, dendritic cells (DC) play a key role in controlling adaptive immune responses, due to their capacity to internalize foreign materials and to present antigens to naive T and B lymphocytes, locally or in draining organized lymphoid tissues. Immune cells recruited in epithelial tissues can, in turn, act upon the epithelial cells and change their phenotype in a process referred to as epithelial metaplasia.