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I welcome you to this special issue of the Journal of Dermatology that focuses on systemic sclerosis.

Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is a systemic autoimmune complex disease that affects multiple organs. Systemic sclerosis remains the most fatal disease among connective tissue diseases, and the pathogenesis of this disease is still unclear.

It is a great honor to introduce and edit this multi-authored issue, which highlights the recent advances in systemic sclerosis. Each article contributor in this issue is an active investigator and expert in his or her field, so I am deeply appreciative of everyone's efforts to share the results of their studies here with us.

In the past two decades, the number of dermatological research publications on systemic sclerosis may have decreased in the world, but this is not the case in Japan. Therefore, it is with great pride that I affirm that the well-researched articles you will find in this issue are all written by young, up-and-coming Japanese dermatologists.

In this issue, recent discoveries in systemic sclerosis are reviewed in five sections: (i) the mechanisms of the fibrotic process with abnormal collagen metabolism and abnormal cytokine regulations, reviewed by Jinnin; (ii) the disease-specific autoantibodies and their clinical significance, by Hamaguchi; (iii) B-cell abnormalities and possible future treatment by controlling B cells, by Hasegawa; (iv) animal models of systemic sclerosis, especially the bleomycin-induced model, by Yamamoto; and (v) current treatment and future possibilities for establishment of disease-modifying drugs, by Asano.

Many of my friends in the field of systemic sclerosis – mainly rheumatologists – ask me, “Why do Japanese dermatologists still choose to remain in the field of systemic sclerosis?” My answer is that systemic sclerosis accompanies many skin manifestations and we dermatologists can still contribute so much to areas such as diagnosis, classification, treatment and survey of pathogenesis, as is evident in the following pages.