NF1 and NF2 involve mutations in the gene for neurofibromin, which is a negative regulator of the ras signal transduction pathway.
Ras is an oncoprotein, something that promotes cell division. Normally Ras cycles on and off. Ras requires an enzyme called PAK (p21-activated kinases).
In patients with NF1 or NF2, the neurofibromin gene is defective, and Ras stays on, meaning PAK is active. This leads to excess cell growth.
Basically, Lack of neurofibromin -> Too much ras -> too much PAK -> too much cell division.
But there is more.
There's also mTOR.
and in NF-2, merlin.
and low levels of cAMP.
Cyclic AMP suppression is sufficient to induce gliomagenesis in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis-1
On a more general level -
Antioxidants may be involved:
NF1 mutations made fruit flies more susceptible to oxidative stress from reactive oxygen species, with decreased mitochondrial function. Extra NF1 made fruit flies able to tolerate oxidative stress better.
"NF1 gene mutants had shortened life spans and increased vulnerability to heat and oxidative stress in association with reduced mitochondrial respiration and elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Flies overexpressing NF1 had increased life spans, improved reproductive fitness, increased resistance to oxidative and heat stress in association with increased mitochondrial respiration and a 60% reduction in ROS production."
This had to do with cAMP, not Ras.
"These phenotypic effects proved to be modulated by the adenylyl cyclase/cyclic AMP (cAMP)/protein kinase A pathway, not the Ras/Raf pathway.
Catalytic antioxidants helped!
"Treatment of wild-type D. melanogaster with cAMP analogs increased their life span, and treatment of NF1 mutants with metalloporphyrin catalytic antioxidant compounds restored their life span. Thus, neurofibromin regulates longevity and stress resistance through cAMP regulation of mitochondrial respiration and ROS production, and NF1 may be treatable using catalytic antioxidants."
-Life extension through neurofibromin mitochondrial regulation and antioxidant therapy for neurofibromatosis-1 in Drosophila melanogaster
"Panels A-G illustrate that mitochondrial energy deficiency and increased oxidative stress of NF1 mutants can be rescued by antioxidants."--patent application
Don't get colds as much?
It's an interesting observation that people with NF don't seem to get colds much.
Do those with NF1 get sick less often?
The same is observed about people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), who rarely get colds. It doesn't necessarily indicate being healthier; it could also indicate the lack of a predictable response to infections.